Belgrade, October 10, 2010
The Serbian Orthodox Church on Friday spoke out against a gay pride parade planned this weekend but also warned against violence targeting participants.
The Church was "resolutely opposed to the organisation of a so-called pride parade" but said "any violence is unacceptable," it said on its website.
"This also goes for violence against people whose positions are wrong in the eyes of the Church, who violate or threaten moral values," it said.
Serbian gay organisations plan a parade in the Belgrade on Sunday, having called off last year's after the government said it could not guarantee the security of the participants.
The first ever gay pride parade in Serbia in 2001 was broken up in violent clashes provoked by right-wing extremists.
Serbian Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Svetozar Ciplic has said he will take part in Sunday's parade together with "at least two other ministers" and several members of parliament.
The representative of the European Commission in Belgrade, French diplomat Vincent Degert, also announced his intention to join the parade earlier this week.
An anti-gay counter protest is already planned for Saturday and in Belgrade in recent days anti-parade posters have appeared with the threat: "We are waiting for you."
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned Serbia Wednesday that the gay parade would be a test of "the maturity of Serbian democracy".