At what was believed to be the first gay and lesbian rights march in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, dozens of activists were attacked by opponents of equality for homosexuals in the Serbian nation. “Roving bands of young men” attacked the marchers one by one, kicking them repeatedly until police arrived on the scene. The attacks took place before the march’s kick-off this weekend, as the apparently organized opponents attempted to prevent the march from taking place. One attacker told B-92 radio, “we are here to prevent immorality in Serbia” while other protestors shouted, “Serbia is not a gay country.” The protestors also broke the front door windows of the offices of a moderate political party that supports gay and lesbian rights.
Belgrade police chief Bosko Buha said he was not expecting so many violent anti-gay protestors at the march, so he deployed only 50 officers without riot gear. The officers responded quickly to the violence, however, eyewitnesses reported, and a dozen attackers were detained by mid-afternoon. More arrests are expected. None of the injuries sustained that day were life-threatening, and gay and lesbian rights activists in Yugoslavia plan to continue their work. One woman told B-92 radio, “We will not give up our rights and our struggle to introduce democracy in Serbia. I am sorry that there are still people who promote hatred.”
For more information on worldwide pride efforts and the treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals worldwide, visit the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission online.