The head of Serbia's Christian Orthodox church has denounced a gay pride march planned for the weekend, adding to tensions over the event, which has faced threats from extremists.

Patriarch Irinej said in a statement Tuesday that the "shameless" event casts a moral shadow on Serbia — a conservative Balkan country whose gay population has faced harassment.

Officials have suggested they could allow Sunday's event despite fears of a repeat of the violence in 2010 when right-wing groups attacked a pride march in Belgrade, triggering clashes with police that left more than 100 people injured. Authorities banned gay rights marches planned for the following three years.

Holding the march is seen as a test of Serbia's pledge to respect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.