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news 22 Sep 17

Montenegrin Capital Set for Gay Pride Parade

The fifth annual Podgorica Pride parade takes place in the Montenegrin capital with activists urging the state to impose tougher penalties for violent offences against LGBT people.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
2016 Pride parade in Podgorica passed off peacefull. Photo: BIRN.

Montenegrin riot police will be deployed to protect the Podgorica Pride Parade on Sunday, although only as a precaution, as no major incidents are expected.

The NGO organizing the parade, Queer Montenegro, called on participants and their families to raise their voices against homphobic violence and urged the state to toughen the penalties for offenders, saying that mild sentences send the wrong message.

“Violence is completely normalized in Montenegro and we lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons, women or persons with disabilities are endangered by it," Queer Montenegro's director, Danijel Kalezic, said.

He said that prosecutors currently treat brawls in cafes and physical attacks on LGBT persons a much the same thing.

“To change that, the most important thing is for us all to work together to change individuals and society in everyday life," Kalezic said.

Although no violence is expected during the Pride march in Podgorica, the organizers said adequate police protection should guarantee the security of all participants.

As in previous years, the route will proceed down Podgorica’s main Boulevard of St Petar Cetinjski, past the parliament and the government buildings.

Last year's Pride parade in Podgorica passed off peacefully as the 200 or so participating gays and lesbians and their supporters were protected by hundreds of riot police.

During the first Pride march in Podgorica, however, in October 2013, more than 500 protesters, mostly football hooligans, hurled rocks and bottles at the several dozen marchers.

Homosexuality remains a hot issue in the socially conservative country, as it does elsewhere in the Balkan region.

Some surveys suggested that 71 per cent of citizens in Montenegro consider homosexuality an illness, and every second citizen still agrees that homosexuality is a danger to society and that the state should work to suppress it.

The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, the most powerful religious community in the country, remains firmly opposed to gay rights.

According to the same surveys, 67 per cent of people believe the Church's stand against homosexuality is correct.

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