A gay pride march planned for Sunday in Belgrade was canceled after authorities announced they could not guarantee the safety of participants, and organizers refused to relocate the event to a less central area.
"Organiser Dragana Vuckovic told B92 television that Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic 'handed us a paper informing us that the parade was not possible (in central Belgrade) because the risks were too high,'" reported Agence France-Presse.
"Vuckovic said organisers canceled the event, planned for Sunday, after police suggested it could instead take place in a field," AFP reported.
The stated inability to provide adequate police protection represented a turn of events for officials, who had pledged to protect the gay pride march in the hopes of enhancing their standing for goals such as European Union membership.
In the days leading up to the march, which was expected to draw 1,000 participants and would have been the first in Serbia since 2001, ultra-nationalists and the Serbian Orthodox Church threatened to stop what they called a "parade of shame."
Gay rights opponents championed the parade cancellation as a defeat for "infidels and Satanists." Organizers called on the government to investigate the threats to the march.
The 2001 gay pride march in Belgrade ended in violence as police failed to protect participants from attacks by antigay extremists.
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