Serbia Orthodox church head publicly supports EuroPride ban

Sep 5, 2022, 9:38 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 9:59 am

FILE - People march during a protest against the international LGBT event EuroPride in Belgrade, Se...

FILE - People march during a protest against the international LGBT event EuroPride in Belgrade, Serbia, on Aug. 28, 2022. The head of Serbia's powerful Orthodox Church on Tuesday Sept. 6, 2022 supported a ban on a pan-European LGBTQ event due to take place in Belgrade next week, saying that the topic has been “artificially imposed” and threatens traditional values in the Balkan country. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The head of Serbia’s powerful Orthodox Church on Tuesday supported a ban on a pan-European LGBTQ event due to take place in Belgrade next week, saying that the topic has been “artificially imposed” and threatens traditional values in the Balkan country.

The special video statement by Patriarch Porfirije comes amid a heated debate in Serbia and mounting international criticism over the authorities’ announcement that the Sept. 12-18 EuroPride events are canceled because of threats of violence from right-wing extremists.

Members of the European Pride Organizers Association chose Serbia’s capital three years ago to host the annual event, in what was seen as a major breakthrough for a Slavic country that is traditionally conservative and under strong influence from the Orthodox Church.

Serbia has pledged to boost LGBTQ rights as it seeks membership in the European Union. While pride marches had been held in the country under strong security in the past several years, plans for this year’s event triggered protests by increasingly vocal pro-Russian rightist groups.

Opposition groups and rights activists have said canceling the pride march over extremists’ threats is a blow to democracy. But Patriarch Porfirije said banning the event was “necessary and justified.”

“This topic was artificially imposed on us and is completely contrary to the system of values of our nation,” he said.

Just days away from the events that are suposed to include a Pride march and open-air concerts, organizers say they are yet to receive a formal ban. Several EU officials have said they will join the march, while those calling on the Serbian government to reverse the announced ban included U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken.

Goran Miletic, a EuroPride coordinator in Serbia, said on Monday that organizers have been holding negotiations with the government. He said preparations are still underway for the gathering that is expected to draw 15,000 people.

“We will not give up on any part of the European pride week, including the march scheduled for Sept. 17,” Miletic said.

“We are ready for a compromise and an agreement so that EuroPride can take place in an orderly manner and so that an image of beauty and solidarity is sent to the world from Belgrade and Serbia.”

Porfirije’s public statement puts additional pressure on the government and is likely to further fuel public opposition as well.

Serbia’s populist leader, Aleksandar Vucic, also cited a crisis with Kosovo and growing economic and energy troubles caused by the war in Ukraine, as the reasons why the state cannot handle potential clashes with right-wing groups.

In the statement carried by the state RTS television, Porfirije warned against violence.

“Evil is not cured and defeated by violence, only multiplied,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Washington gun restrictions...

Associated Press

Judge rejects attempt to block new Washington state gun restrictions

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a request to block a new Washington state law banning the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles

1 day ago

FILE - A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference, April 28, 2015,...

Associated Press

Microsoft will pay $20M to settle U.S. charges of illegally collecting children’s data

Microsoft will pay a fine of $20 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it illegally collected and retained the data of children

1 day ago

FILE - OpenAI's CEO Sam Altman gestures while speaking at University College London as part of his ...

Associated Press

OpenAI boss ‘heartened’ by talks with world leaders over will to contain AI risks

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said Monday he was encouraged by a desire shown by world leaders to contain any risks posed by the artificial intelligence technology his company and others are developing.

2 days ago

FILE - The draft of a bill that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif., neg...

Associated Press

Debt deal imposes new work requirements for food aid and that frustrates many Democrats

Democrats are deeply conflicted about the debt ceiling deal, fearing damage has been done to safety net programs

3 days ago

Seattle lawyer...

Associated Press

Lawsuit alleging ex-deputy falsified arrest report settled for $250K

A lawsuit filed by a Washington oyster farmer accusing a former county deputy of falsifying an arrest report

3 days ago

Mt. Rainier death...

Associated Press

Washington man climbing Mount Rainier dies near summit

A Washington state man who was trying to summit Mount Rainier this week collapsed and died near the top of the mountain.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Emergency Preparedness...

Prepare for the next disaster at the Emergency Preparedness Conference

Being prepared before the next emergency arrives is key to preserving businesses and organizations of many kinds.

SHIBA volunteer...

Volunteer to help people understand their Medicare options!

If you’re retired or getting ready to retire and looking for new ways to stay active, becoming a SHIBA volunteer could be for you!

Serbia Orthodox church head publicly supports EuroPride ban