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News 21 Oct 13

Montenegro Detains 60 After Gay Pride March

Sixty people were detained and 20 police officers injured in clashes during the gay rights parade in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica which went ahead despite the violence.

Milena Milosevic
BIRN
Podgorica

Police said that 60 people had been detained amid violent clashes across Podgorica after the Montenegrin capital’s first ever Gay Pride parade on Sunday.

Masked anti-gay protesters attacked police cordons and threw stones as they tried to break through and reach the parade, but officers in full riot gear held them back by firing tear gas.

Twenty policemen were injured, one of them seriously. Among the 60 people detained, a third of them were under 18, police said.

“Police officers are undertaking actions to identify the rest of the people who caused the incidents and injured policemen, and inflicted material damage on objects and property at several locations,” the police said in a statement.

The daily newspaper Vijesti also reported that its premises and cars were attacked by the anti-gay protesters.

Interior minister Rasko Konjevic expressed his gratitude to the police for protecting the parade and also to residents of the capital.

“I say thank you in the name of the ministry of internal affairs to the people of Podgorica who expressed a high level of tolerance towards the Gay Pride participants,” he said.

Several hundred people marched in the Pride parade, blowing whistles and carrying rainbow flags and banners with slogans like “Gay is OK” and “Love is love”.

“As of today, gay people are no longer invisible in Montenegro. From today, these streets are ours as well,” Danijel Kalezic, one of the organisers, said on Sunday morning as the event began.

The march was attended by Montenegro’s minister for human and minority rights, Suad Numanovic.

“This peaceful gathering is a guarantee that the LGBT population will be entirely protected because Montenegro will not allow any of its citizens to feel less worthy or unprotected,” Numanovic said.

Some 2,000 police officers were deployed to prevent possible violence.

Prior to the event, media reported that one teenager injured himself while trying to make an explosive device which he planned to throw at the parade’s participants.

The parade officially named “Proudly, Montenegro”,  was the second to be held in the country – the first took place in the seaside town of Budva in July.

It was attended by an estimated 120 people and went ahead despite attacks by anti-gay protesters.

The latest European Commission progress report on Montenegro, issued on October 16, said that hate speech and violence against the LGBT community had increased since the July parade, demonstrating “a high level of homophobia in the country”.

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