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Belgrade Pride Unaffected as Anti-Gay Protesters Battle Against Police
 

 
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■ Participants in the Belgrade Pride assemble for the march.  Less than a kilometre away, anti-gay protesters battled with police.
photo UK Gay News

 


By Andy Harley in Belgrade

15:45 (UK) LATEST.  There are reports coming in that a Pride participant from Switzerland has been taken to hospital with injuries.  He is reported to have been attacked in the street two hours after the end of the march.

BELGRADE, October 10, 2010    There was tight security at Belgrade Pride today – the first since 2001 which saw participants violently attacked by far-right homophobic elements.  And the result today was that Gay Pride went ahead peacefully, with some 1,000 taking part in the march through a small part of the centre of the Serbian capital.

However, there were violent clashes elsewhere in the city.

The undisputed “stars” of the show were the reported 5,000 police officers who kept the anti-gay protesters from the far-right wing– and mostly young men – at least two blocks away from the march.

It was apparent that the protesters took no notice of government appeals for no violence as the police came under attack from the thugs who hurled petrol bombs, bottles and bricks.  And the police retaliated with tear gas to disperse attackers.  Early reports say that at least 40 police officers were injured – one of them seriously.  The figure was later put at 124 police officers and 17 rioters.  All told, 207 people were detained by the police, with 100 remanded in custody for violent behaviour and looting.

Getting to the area where Pride was staged required going through three security checks in the space of some 750 metres.  Such was the security.

The protesters, who had plastered “We Are Waiting” posters across the city yesterday, chanted “death to gays” as they battled with police who were guarding the “secure zone” of the city.

Inside the zone it was peaceful, with most of the Pride participants unaware of the battles going on.

Serbian Human and Minority Rights Minister Svetozar Čiplić, was at the march, as were representatives of Democratic Party, Liberal Democratic Party, NGOs and the European Union.

The Pride was opened by Vincent Degert, head of the European Union delegation in Serbia who said that this day had been awaited for years.  He stressed that the Pride was a very important event and said that Serbia had “good legislation regarding protection of human rights and rights to sexual and religious orientation.”

“It is important that people can live with these rights and values,” he said, adding that the Pride March was also important as an indicator that society was rejecting violence.

Fire appliances raced to the headquarters building of the rulling Democratic Party when a garage was torched by protesters.  Crews quickly bought the fire under control.  Also the headquarters of state broadcaster RTS was attacked.  The thugs also tried to storm the Parliament building, but were thwarted by police.

Returning to the hotel following the march – a short 10-minute walk, there was tear gas lingering.

And staff at the hotel are advising foreign guests not to go out of the building.


Latest reports from the B92 New website say that “the tension was subsiding in the streets of Belgrade”.

This evening, Septian President Boris Tadić reacted to the violence: “The state is ready to get tough with the hooligans,” he said.

Linda Freimane, a co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board Is in Belgrade and took part in the march.

In a statement this evening, she said: “Belgrade Pride had a history of being one of the most violent and bloodies Prides in Europe.

“However, today, the Serbian authorities proved they are serious in their respect for everyone’s right to exercise their fundamental rights, and for European integration.  Despite significant pressure from some of its citizens, religious leaders and threats by ultra-nationalists, the March for Equality could take place and no participants were hurt during the March.

“Our deepest sympathy goes to those Serbian police officers who received serious injuries and a participant of the March who we learned has been attacked after the March.  We regret and denounce the fact that some sections of the Serbian society do not want to see their country as an equal and democratic part of the European family and employ barbaric and violent methods to prevent the progress in their country.

“We sincerely hope that the Serbian government and the political elite will continue their work towards protecting the human rights of all citizens, and we will continue monitor the situation in Serbia closely, as well as continue our work with LGBTI and other organisations who are dedicated to legal and social change in Serbia,” she concluded.

Television stations in Serbia were this evening showing pictures of some of the injured police officers.

“The police were without question the heroes of the day,” said William Urich who took part in the march on behalf of InterPride.

“It makes me angry that some of them were injured, some of them seemingly seriously hurt,” he added.

SEE ALSO

Belgrade Gay Pride: The March Went On.  Photos from Belgrade Pride 2010 (UK Gay News, October 10, 2010.

 

 

 

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Posted: 10 October 2010 at 14:30 (UK time)
updated at 15:45, 18:30 and 19:40

   
             
       

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