Gay Pride & Riots in Belgrade

Sunday’s gay pride parade, the first in Serbia after 2001, sparked riots in central Belgrade, with dozens of people injured and arrested.

According to local media reports, almost a hundred people, including around 50 policemen, were injured in anti-gay riots that followed Sunday’s gay pride march in the Serbian capital. B92 TV reported clashes between police and rioters at several locations in the city centre, including the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Party and the national television centre. Several protesters tried to enter the parliament building before being chased away by police. Anti-gay rioters threw stones at police officers in full riot gear, smashed and burned cars, and looted kiosks. They chanted “The hunt has begun”, and sang nationalist songs. Police sources quoted by Reuters reported that one gay rights activist was beaten unconscious while more than 100 people were detained.

Aftermath of the riot | Scenes from the riot itself can be seen here

Serbian President Boris Tadic condemned the violence, saying that freedom of expression is guaranteed by constitution. "Serbia will ensure the protection of human rights for all citizens, regardless of their differences and any attempts to deny them their freedoms through violence will not go through", the president said in a statement.

Parade’s Sombre Mood

The riots followed a short march through the streets of Belgrade by around 1.000 gay activists, who then went to an indoor party at the Student’s Cultural Centre. Gay rights activists carried a banner with the slogan “Together we can”, and chanted “Jointly against fascism”. Many participants described the mood of the parade as sombre, with one, Susanne Simon-Paunovic, quoted by Reuters, saying “It was more like a death march. The atmosphere was terrible”. Gay Pride party ended around lunchtime, after which the police drove the participants home.

Gay rights activists were joined by the Serbian Human and Minority Rights Minister, Svetozar Ciplic, several Serbian MPs and representatives of international organizations based in Belgrade. Emphasizing the importance of today’s parade, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Degert, told activists 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 added.

Video from the parade

Gay Rights as EU Readiness Test

The parade was the first in Serbia since 2001, when a similar march ended in violent clashes provoked by far-right groups. Last year’s parade was called off at the last minute, after the government said it could not guarantee the safety of participants.

Sunday’s parade was preceded by a much larger, peaceful anti-gay protest the day before, which included families with young children and football supporters. The Serbian Orthodox Church condemned the gay march, while urging people to refrain from violence.

The march took place amid Serbia’s efforts to join the EU and it is seen by many as the nation’s test of its progress since the days of ultra-nationalism and violence of the 1990s. It came only two days before US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s visit to the region.


16 thoughts on “Gay Pride & Riots in Belgrade”

  1. I’ll never understand how some people can think that violence is ever the answer to anything. It always does far more damage then good….

    I also fail to understand how so many people can be so hateful….

  2. “I also fail to understand how so many people can be so hateful”

    The primary religion over there is church of serbia, which is part of some orthodox christian (catholics rank 2nd). I’d be willing to bet that that church/religion has everything to do with all their anti-gay riots. Just like in any religious country (much like ours), their churches try to control every aspect of their lives.

    1. Yea, leave it to those that profess to follow the teachings of a man that said “Judge not lest ye be judged yourself”, “Love your enemies,
      bless them that curse you”, “You must love your neighbor as yourself”, and “If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” to be among the most hateful, violent types…

  3. When thingking about what makes people “down there” so aggressive – you should not think in the first place about the church and toddays politics.
    Think about socialistic-nationalistic Politics! Never forget that in the whole “east” socialism would have a strong nationalist drive. In the USSR as well as in Tito´s Yougoslavia it was that way. Maybe somehow differnt there with an inventet “Nationality” the South-Slaves. (what is translated Yugo-Slavia”)
    Just the point that these socialists did present themselves as “the native enemy” of National-Socialism – that does not necessarily have mean that this is really true.
    They´ve been Socialist-Nationalists – they had concentration camps – there was little freedom – they were persecuting minorities and people who thought different.
    So I wouder about some communist flags within the manifestation. At least there even some Anarchist flags, too. No Power – is the way – just because even democracy can be as depressive as feudalism or a dictatorship on the single person – or minorities.

  4. @ PenboyX: I dunno. The entire communist east was pretty much homophobic. After all, making more little communists was as much encouraged by the Sovjets and their satellite states as making more little Catholics is by those heeding the words of the Vatican. And while I really do not want to compare Nazi-regimes with communist regimes in a lot of ways, they – like Catholicism, orthodox Christianity, Mormonism, and much of Islam – are inherently authoritarian and conservative (at least as far as their own power is concerned.) All those systems are homophobic because they fear change, and what challenges the old order more than challenging the understanding of gender roles?
    I don’t think it’s religion per se. It’s being conservative per se.

    1. conservative? fear of change? There is little reason in this argument. We know that most men are not 100% straight – and its quite likely it was that way even before churches and politics were “invented”.

      The point is much mor subtile: Divide et impera. If you want people to obey “better” – you have to give them the feeling that they are quite close from failing.

      So regarding the fact that most men are not 100% straight – homophobia is simply the perfect instrument to make men obey “better”. 90% of all men know that they once had or still have feelings for other men.
      So the strict homophobia makes them feel “close to fail” – which makes them obey harder. Not only regarding their attitude towards sexuality – but in general.

      The idea to ban homosexuality for it might reduce the number of children is totally stupid. If you would just aim on the population – lesbian sex would have to be much more “evil”. If you would like to recuce a population – you have to aim on the females.

      Now continue thinking. Why is masturbation “evil”? Masturbation has no influence on the growth of population at all.
      The same thing: Almost everybody masturbates – So to use this fact to make people feel quilty is perfect, too.
      Ok masturbation would not work for making men feel guilty – but its good enogh for boys and girls who do not know that “the others are doing it, too”.

      Make people feel quilty – and they obey.

      1. It was not so much the church, but rather the “age of enlightment” (their philosophers weren’t exactly fond of the church, you know), when they seriously tried to prevent masturbation.

  5. I am a Serb, now living in Australia for the last 12 years. I have never gone back, however am dying to do so. Serbia has incredible nature, culture, music and traditions. However a huge part of Serbia’s culture and identity, is it’s national religion, Serbian – Christian Orthodox. The church has spoken out against gay parades, but also this year spoke against violence against those taking part in it. These are soccer thugs, hooligans who have been brainwashed by fascist, neo-nazis. Also Serbia is not really east Europe, it’s central Europe.

    I must say, while I am so eager to go back and see everything I love and miss, I hate the people and how closed minded they are. Let me remind you the Yugoslav wars were fought on lines of religion (Croats are Catholic, Bosnia had Serbs (Orthodox) Muslims and Croats) as well as other republics, resulting in kills and huge amounts of refugees simply based on religion.

    I am so disgusted by what happened back in 2001, and again now. Congratulations to the government who you may say is doing everything possible to get into the EU, it is still the correct way of doing things, sadly thousands of police will not be able to protect every gay person all the time thus makes everything pointless again.

    I read that about 70% of Serbians think homosexuality is an illness (and my father also believes it) .. It’s a great nation but with narrow minded people. Remember tho these a rebellious mind-washed youth. There are rednecks everywhere.

    The culture over there is that, in combination with very prevalent religion and strong family values, these people think that it’s a sin, unhealthy and un-natural to be homosexual, and that it has no place in Serbia. It will take alot of effort and much, much time for this to change. Hopefully the EU does continue to intervene and set the correct standards for at least the government to do everything correct. People will change in due course.

    The best thing would be for the Church to stop speaking against gays, that would help the most and the quickest, but no chance of that happening.

    1. Thank you, gorant for pointing that out from a Serbian’s view. That’s why I stated what I did. Everyone can go for years debating some sort of pseudo politics, but when it applies to anything anti-gay, it will always boil down to some sort of religious “doctrine.” — always. We all know there are many dictatorial governments around but at least 98% of all governments will always govern at least partially (and usually it’s no small part) by the doctrines of whatever religion is predominant in that country. Even in our country, at least 65-70% (and that’s a conservative number) of all our laws (about public behavior, etc.) have at least some base of one religion or another.

      “If you would just aim on the population – lesbian sex would have to be much more “evil”. If you would like to [reduce] a population – you have to aim on the females. ”
      That is a bit ridiculous and obviously only half the equation. If you’re going to blame [lesbian] women for not touching any “disgusting” penis, you obviously must blame any [gay] men for not touching any “disgusting” vagina either. With making babies, it takes 2 to tango (even if one is frozen in a test tube). But I’m pretty sure in Serbia that very few (if any) women are being impregnated via the test tube.

      You can flap all day long about conservatism or any other political ideas (with regard to anti-gay doctrines) but always in the final analysis, it will always be started by some church/ religion. And that isn’t to say that “guilt” or other such “control” isn’t used, but whatever is used, originates from some sort of religious “doctrine.”

      1. I´m talking about facts! – but maybe you just did not get the point.
        For example: I have 10 female kittens and 10 tom-cats in my village. What would happen to the reproduction-rate if i castrate 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 tom cats?
        The reproduction-rate would almost stay at the level it was before i started castrating tom-cats. Just because even the last tom-cat left would be enogh to get most kittens pregnant.
        But if you start to sterelisize females – you get the reproduction down with every single strerilisation.

        I do not want to compare cats to humans, of course – but the point is the same: If culture would tend to ban homosexuality in order to keep the reproduction-rate high – lesbians would have to be discriminated in a much higher degree than gays.

        The fact that it is actually the other way round – makes it quite likely to say that there is no connection between discrimination of homosexuals and the idea of keeping the reproduction-rate within a population high.

        An other biological point is the following:
        The percentage of homosexuals within society is much too high as it could “just be a genetic defect”.

        And these two arguments lead me to a different idea:
        We have homosexuality as something which is quite likely to even have had some positive influence within mankinds evolution (otherwise it would have been some sort of genetic defect – and exist in much lower rates).
        We have quite a big deal of “homosexuality” within not only society but even every single human beeing.

        So we have to ask: Where might be the reason to discriminate something which is quite common – and not having bad influences on the society?

        The very likely answer is that this is done in order to create some sort of feeling of guilt in order to make most men to obey better.
        The motto is: If you have them at the balls – their minds and souls will follow. ;)

        So I would say – forget that church- socialists- and nazi-stuff – and regard it as it is: It is just an instrument to make people obey to whatever kind of governement.

      1. Central Europe:

        “Located at the crossroads between Central and Southern Europe Serbia is found in the Balkan peninsula and the Pannonian Plain. The Danube passes through Serbia with 21% of its overall length, joined by its biggest tributaries, the Sava and Tisza rivers.[86] The province of Vojvodina covers the northern third of the country, and is entirely located within the Central European Pannonian Plain. Dinaric mountains, gradually rising towards south, cover most of western and central Serbia. The easternmost tip of Serbia extends into the Wallachian Plain. The eastern border of the country intersects with the Carpathian Mountain range,[87] which run through the whole of Central Europe.”

        It’s not set in stone the definition of Central Europe, however I read that Serbs strongly defend when classed as Eastern Europe. When you look at the overall European continent Serbia really is more in the center of it all then left or right.

        1. Thanks for that first map. Very interesting — I saved it for future reference. I appreciate you posting it. :-)

  6. l’unica cosa possibile all’odio cristiano ortodosso,cattolico e mussulmano contro i gay e’reagire senza timori, ne va’della nostra futura liberta’ attaccare costantemente il cuore del Vaticano,delle chiese nei suoi beni e nelle ricchezze,Si stanno vendicando delle denuce che i ragazzi del mondo intero hanno fatto nei confronti dei preti pedofili,gli indennizi li hanno dissanguati,ed ora come nelle sante inquisizioni di un tempo vorebbero mandarci al rogo.Forza ragazzi non vi fate intimorire………

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