Serbian bishop calls for armed attack on LGBTQ+ people: ‘If I had a weapon, I would use it’

 

Bishop Nikanor speaks

Serbian Orthodox Church bishop Nikanor Bogunović of Bana. (Screen capture via YouTube)

A senior bishop in Serbia has been condemned for encouraging armed attacks against an LGBTQ+ Pride event in Belgrade.

In September, the Serbian capital will host EuroPride, which celebrates LGBTQ+ rights across the continent, in a first for a southeastern European country.

But Serbian Orthodox Church bishop Nikanor Bogunović of Banat, a region that covers parts of Serbia, Romania and Hungary, has vowed to “curse” all those who attend the week-long festival.

 

“I will curse all those who organize and participate in something like that,” Nikanor said in remarks made on 11 August, according to Balkan Insight.

“I can do that much. If I had a weapon, I would use it, I would use that force if only I had it, but I do not.”

He added that EuroPride participants “will come to Belgrade and flaunt and desecrate the city of Belgrade, the holy Serbian city,” and that “we raise our voice against such [people]”.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić said Nicanor’s sermon had another clear target – the country’s lesbian prime minister, Ana Brnabić, elected in 2017.

 

“Bishop Nicanor insulted himself and our church, humiliated our church, much more than Ana Brnabić or anyone else ever did,” he told TV network Prva TV on 12 August.

Only three days after Nikanor’s comments, chants of “Hands off our children” and “Stop the parade of shame” boomed through the streets of Belgrade as part of a protest against EuroPride.

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside Serbian Orthodox Church Patriarchate offices before ending at the Sain Marko Church. The demonstration was backed by the Serbian Orthodox Church, according to local media reports.

Serbia, a deeply conservative country in the Balkans, has a spotty track record with LGBTQ+ rights at best. Something seemingly at odds with it being one of the few nations to have an openly gay leader.

Queer Serbs do enjoy some protections in the eyes of the law, but same-gender couples are not legally recognised and marriage equality remains firmly banned by the constitution.

 

Though the days when nearly half of Serbs considered being gay an illness are long gone, officials remain sluggish to tackle homophobia while religious leaders consider LGBTQ+ rights a degenerate Western plot.

Serbia’s prime minister Ana Brnabić (2-R) at Belgrade Pride in 2017. (ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

The knock-on effect of this is easy to see. Almost 60 per cent of LGBTQ+ Serbs have reported physical or emotional abuse in the course of a year, according to a 2020 report by the human rights group Center for Research and Development of Society IDEAS.

So for a high-ranking religious figure like Nikanor to call congregants for arms wasn’t exactly unexpected to some activists.

“It’s deeply disturbing to see a bishop incite armed violence against the LGBTQ+ community, however, it’s not surprising,” Nik Jovčić-Sas, a British-Serbian LGBTQ+ activist, told PinkNews.

“The Serbian Orthodox Church’s response to the queer and trans community for the past 20 years has been one of implicit and explicit violence.”

Jovčić-Sas said the first Belgrade Pride ever held in 2001 has come to be known as “Крви Прајд, ‘the bloody Pride’, for its extreme violence”.

Football hooligans joined right-wing nationalists to beat up and stone Pride-goers wishing to celebrate who they are. The violence only ended when police fired in the air to disperse the seething crowds.

The haunting scene was repeated nearly a decade later in 2010 when the second Belgrade Pride was held. Thugs tore through the march, lobbing Molotov cocktails, bricks, stones, glass bottles and firecrackers at Pride-goers and police in a protest egged on by religious leaders.

More than 100 people were arrested after the office of the ruling Democratic Party was set on fire and at least one shot was fired in clashes with the police.

“The church has always allowed itself to be the heart of the country’s most virulent anti-queer campaigns,” Jovčić-Sas added.

Patriarch Porfirije offered LGBTQ+ Serbs hope for a more inclusive and tolerant Serbian Orthodox Church when he expressed sympathy for queer couples fighting for legal recognition.

“However considering that he has not condemned Bishop Nikanor for his comments and allowed the church to be the rallying point for this weekend’s anti-Pride march,” Jovčić-Sas said, “I am not optimistic we will see any change from this Patriarch.”

13 thoughts on “Serbian bishop calls for armed attack on LGBTQ+ people: ‘If I had a weapon, I would use it’

    1. Hello Michael. Thank you. He is like a lot of fundamentalist believers thinks it is OK to kill those who do not worship as he demands they should. He thinks he has the authority to simply end the lives of those acting in a way he is against. He must worship a god of death. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Roger. Most extreme churches that preach hate and outrage are completely authoritarian with the belief they have the right to force others to live by their religious dictates. Which means they think they should be in charge of everyone or the rulers of men. The government. Hugs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. From a Christian perspective Scottie, they will be called before to God to answer for their sins and cast out into misery.
        The teachings of Jesus Christ are plain enough for them to see Compassion and Love are paramount.
        Hate does not come into it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hello Roger. Do you think these hate preachers really believe in the god of the bible? Seems to me if they even believe in god at all and it is not a scam the are running the god they believe in is the one they made in their image. I know I have no proof of that, but I have seen people who really believe in a supreme deity who don’t act like these hate preachers. They were people to admire even if you did not believe in their religion. So I really struggle to think these hate preachers really believe the stuff they spew, but maybe they really are that ugly, mean, and hateful. Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Sadly Scottie every belief system, or cause has its folk so deep in they’ve lost perspective and turn the system to suit their own bitter anger.
            Once they’ve shoe-horned the beliefs into their own mind set they will not be moved.
            This is where the snake-oil opportunists come in, who are only concerned with lining their own pockets and inflating their egos.
            Hate and anger join up with greed and go hand in hand off down a road to misery and destruction. Because walking behind them is Suspicion whispering in their ears and loving the conflict.
            You can be sure any of the current Right Wing will turn on a fellow believer when it suits them, or if there is no one else around to pick on.
            History, like the fictional cop of old says:
            ‘Nothing new here folks. Move on please,’

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hello Roger. I am feeling melancholy today. A bit sad and a bit remembering the past. Like I said I knew people of faith that I would call grand people. I will just say I think one saved my life. But what I wonder about is how do people of faith, a faith that guides their life but they don’t feel the need to force on others … how do those people like yourself address / fight the ones that misuse the name of your religion, your god, to attack others? You need not answer if you don’t feel like addressing this, I just was curious as the good people always seem to have to battle those with bad intent. Hugs

              Liked by 1 person

              1. It depends Scottie on who I might find myself in conflict with. They usually have an ability to quote great screeds out of the Old and not much the New Testament in the hope they can drown the like of me out.
                It therefore comes down to the ethics. Some might try and convert you on the spot, so you dig your heels in and ask for them to quote the words Christ used. Others slip quickly into political mode, which makes it easier, because their politics and their ‘religious beliefs’ do not mesh with Christ’s teachings. They get irate and storm off.
                Mostly the problem in the UK is defending yourself against the aggressive wing of the atheists who tend to be as bigoted as any Manga subscriber. They also have a woeful idea of the basics, but like their cousins in tolerance on your side of the Atlantic rarely seek the middle ground…I tried that.

                ‘the good people always seem to have to battle those with bad intent.’…… Aye ’twas ever thus in all fields of Life Scottie.
                Take care of yourself.
                Roger & Sheila

                Liked by 1 person

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