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Thousands join anti-gay protest in Belgrade

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-09

An estimated 8,000 people took to the streets in Belgrade on Saturday to voice their opposition ahead of the Gay Pride parade planned Sunday. Organisers of the parade are hoping to avoid having to call it off for the second year running.

AFP - Some 8,000 Serbs marched in Belgrade on Saturday in protest at a Gay Pride parade planned for the following day.

Participants ranged from families with children to young football supporters, some of whom gave Nazi salutes and shouted for the death of homosexuals.
 
Police kept a close eye on the march from the city centre towards the parliament, organised by the extreme nationalist Dveri organisation, but there were no incidents.
 
“The state does nothing to help families yet it authorises this unnatural rally,” Dveri spokesman Miroslav Parovic said. “We want it stopped.”
 
Dveri activists were distributing leaflets saying things such as “the state should help the family and not the Gay Pride” and Sunday’s “shameful parade should be annuled.”
 
Serbian gay organisations plan a parade in Belgrade on Sunday, having called off last year’s after the government said it could not guarantee the security of the participants.
 
The first ever Gay Pride parade in Serbia in 2001 was broken up in violent clashes provoked by right-wing extremists.
 
Protestor Janko Milicevic, a 35-year-old accompanied by his wife and two young children, said: “The Gay Pride is an imposed topic that has nothing to do with economic or social priorities of this country.”
 
A bit further away a group of youths, dressed in black and with their faces covered by masks, chanted anti-gay slogans.
 
Miljana Protic, 26, said that the anti-gay protest and the Gay Pride march were part of freedom of expression offered by a democratic society.
 
“The constitution allows gays to manifest, I admit this, but I came since I also want to manifest my opposition to their intention to parade,” she added.
 
The Serbian Orthodox Church on Friday spoke out against the parade but also warned against violence targeting participants.
 
Serbian Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Svetozar Ciplic has said he will take part in Sunday’s parade together with “at least two other ministers” and several members of parliament.
 
The representative of the European Commission in Belgrade, French diplomat Vincent Degert, has also announced his intention to join the parade.
 
In recent days anti-parade posters have appeared in Belgrade with the threat: “We are waiting for you.”
 
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned Serbia Wednesday that the gay parade would be a test of “the maturity of Serbian democracy”.
 

Date created : 2010-10-10

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