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Violence mars first gay parade in Montenegro

BUDVA, Montenegro -- Police clashed with anti-gay protesters in Montenegro on Wednesday as they tried to disrupt the first gay pride parade to be held in the Balkan country, which is in talks to join the European Union bloc.

Around 200 demonstrators in the coastal town of Budva hurled stones, bottles and flares at policemen who were keeping them separate from around 40 marchers wearing shirts bearing the colors of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement.

At least ten demonstrators were arrested and several marchers were slightly injured, according to police.

Protesters chanted "Kill the gays" and carried banners that read "Only healthy Montenegro", a Reuters reporter on the scene said.

Zdravko Cimbaljevic, one of the march organizers and the first person to have come out as gay in Montenegro, said he had not expected such a violent reaction, which forced the marchers to shorten the route to avoid further clashes.

Risto Bozovic / AP

Montenegro police officers arrest a man in Budva on Wednesday. Dozens of extremists shouting "Kill the gays" attacked gay activists during their first march in Montenegro.

"This is the true face of Montenegro," he told Reuters.

On Tuesday, opponents of the gay rights march had put up fake death notices bearing Cimbaljevic's name and photograph on public buildings in Budva.

Gay pride marches are now routinely held in Montenegro's Adriatic neighbor Croatia, which joined the EU in July, but same-sex rights remain stifled in the conservative, patriarchal societies of most of the Balkans.

In Serbia, which had been in a state union with Montenegro until 2006, police banned a gay pride march last October, fearing attacks by right-wing and ultra-nationalist groups, after the head of Serbia's Orthodox Church called the planned event "a parade of shame".

During a previous pride parade in Serbia in 2011, dozens were injured and arrested as protesters opposing the march clashed with police.

Montenegro, a mountainous country of 680,000 people, began EU accession talks last year, hoping to be the next in line for membership after Croatia.

Before joining, it must demonstrate readiness to protect human rights and the government has passed a bill against all kinds of sexual discrimination.

However, two-thirds of Montenegrins canvassed in a recent survey by the Ipsos research think-tank said they thought homosexuality was an illness and 80 percent said it should be kept private.

by Anonymousreply 607/24/2013

This Balkan/Slavic assault on gays led by Russia and surrounding countries must end. It's very sad--not to mention--dangerous. And it's going to be a long hard fight for equality for the LGBT community in this region of the world, but they will win eventually.

by Anonymousreply 107/24/2013

Veronica Mars was at pride?

by Anonymousreply 207/24/2013

I feel kind of envious of them. They're at the very beginning of their gay rights struggle. Wouldn't it be something to watch, to be a part of. To watch it happen all over again. The glorious failures, the glorious victories. They're being tested by the fires of hell and becoming hardened steel as a result. Yes there will be ashes, but the human spirit is free, and the wrath of the Eastern world will fail as the arc of history bends inevitably to justice.

by Anonymousreply 307/24/2013

[quote]I feel kind of envious of them. They're at the very beginning of their gay rights struggle.

R3. Don't be ridiculous. Been there, done that. There is no need to go backward. And I don't think the gays in Russia, Montenegro, etc. are pleased to be fighting this violent fight now when so many other countries--at least first world countries--are moving forward. This violence is disheartening and sad.

At the very least, Russia ought to know better. It is much smarter than this. Russia is a country steeped in the arts, science and literature. What is wrong with the Russian government regarding issues of gay equality?

by Anonymousreply 407/24/2013

This is but one example of how they are not Western European. Why have them join the Euro-zone?

by Anonymousreply 507/24/2013

sadly not surprising. I really hope gays around the world can someday know the freedom we have here (not perfect but certainly livable).

by Anonymousreply 607/24/2013
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