A banner displayed at a football match in Belgrade on Thursday
reflected the intolerance espoused by the Serbian Orthodox Church
toward a gay pride parade scheduled for Sunday. Opponents led by the
church called the event a "parade of shame" while authorities pledged
to protect participants and maintain the peace.
The gay pride march on Sunday will be the first in Belgrade since 2001, when antigay protesters attacked and violently injured participants, who received little police protection.
This year, according to the Associated Press, opponents plan to attack the parade again, although officials, mindful of their international reputation, intend to deploy thousands of police officers to keep protesters at bay.
"This year's march is considered a major test for the current, pro-Western government, which has pledged to move the country toward European Union membership," reported the AP.
On Thursday, Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, the acting head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, called the upcoming event a "parade of shame" and said on the church's website that gay and lesbian love leads to "death and suicide."