Serbia seeks far-right bans after gay pride threat

BELGRADE Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:06pm IST

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's public prosecutor has asked for two far-right groups to be banned after their threats led to the cancellation of a gay pride parade in Belgrade last weekend, an official said on Friday.

Serbian authorities withdrew approval for gay activists to hold a rally in central Belgrade on Saturday after soccer hooligans and the extremist groups Obraz (Face) and Association 1398 threatened to attack the parade.

"The two groups were identified as those which must be outlawed immediately," prosecutor Slobodan Radovanovic told B92 television.

Serbia's Ministry of Human and Minority Rights asked prosecutors to seek the ban from the constitutional court after five foreigners were beaten, one critically, in central Belgrade last week.

Police since have arrested dozens of ultranationalists, including some suspected of beating French soccer fans and charged them with attempted murder.

Under Serbia's criminal code, groups promoting violence on national, religious or racial grounds are liable to prosecution and imprisonment. "In the future we will seek a ban of all extremist and far-right organizations," Radovanovic said.

Earlier this week Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said the 2009 Pride Parade was a high-risk event that could have led to days of rioting.

The only public event staged by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists in Serbia was in 2001. It ended in violence and dozens of injuries.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Adam Tanner)

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