October 4, 2012 - 20:54 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The European Commission on Thursday, Oct 4 told EU candidate country Serbia that its decision to ban a Gay Pride parade went against fundamental rights upheld by the European Union, EUbusiness reported.
Serbia's prime minister on Wednesday announced the ban, for the second successive year, again citing security concerns over ultra-nationalist threats and after the influential Serbian Orthodox Church condemned the event as a "parade of shame."
"We take note with regret of the decision of the Serbian authorities to ban the Gay Pride parade for the second year in a row," said Peter Stano, spokesman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule.
Stano said Fule is "particularly committed to seeking from candidate countries that they fully embrace fundamental rights and values," meaning no discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in this instance.
However, when questioned, Stano would not draw a direct link between this divergence from EU human rights standards and Serbia's potential EU accession, and said Fule would set out next week the state of play going forward for Serbia, as well as all other candidate countries and hopefuls.
The head of the Socialist grouping in the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, was more willing to draw a direct link, in a statement issued by his party.
"The decision to ban the Belgrade Pride march for 'safety concerns' implies that the Serbian government does not feel ready to ensure freedom of expression for its citizens and protect those demonstrating from potential violent aggressions," Swoboda said.
"We expect all countries in the process of joining the EU to be able to firmly uphold freedom and security of all citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual people."
Last year's parade was banned after Serbian authorities said ultra-nationalists were planning violent riots and deemed the security risk too high.
In 2010, Serbia held its first gay pride parade in a decade but violent riots followed.