News 17 May 11

Montenegro Gay Pride Parade Cancelled After Attacks

Following two attacks directed at gay people on Monday night in Podgorica, the organisers of Montenegro's first gay pride parade say the event has been cancelled.

Drazen Remikovic

Zdravko Cimbaljevic, director of the LGBT Forum Progress, Montenegro's first gay and lesbian NGO and the organiser of the parade, told Balkan Insight that the first attack occurred during a concert of the Croatian group Lollobrigida in downtown Podgorica, when tear gas was thrown into the crowd.

The concert was organised by the NGO to mark the World Day Against Homophobia.

The second attack came after the concert, when a group of young men physically attacked two members of the LGBT Forum Progres.

"Fortunately, they were not seriously injured and the reason for the attack is that someone probably did not like how they were dressed, or something like that. They said that they were still considering whether or not to file criminal charges against the attackers,“ Cimbaljevic said Balkan Insight.

He maintained, however, that the decision to cancel the pride parade had been prompted by a lack of state support to this population.

He said the event would not be rescheduled until the population received the support of the minister for minority and human rights, and "until the prime minister or his deputy publicly support the parade by taking part in it".

While Prime Minister Igor Luksic has pledged his support for the parade, saying that Montenegro had to show it was a society that was ready to accept differences, the country's minister for minority and human rights has not welcomed the idea of a parade.

Minister Ferhat Dinosa was infamously quoted as saying that if it is true that there are gays in the country, “then it is not good for Montenegro”.

The planned pride parade in this small Balkan country, which has been seen as especially unfriendly towards gays and lesbians, had literally split the Montenegro public in half.

While the ruling party and civil society groups see the march as a key test of the country’s political maturity, Church leaders, pro-Serbian oppostion parties – and most of the public – see it as an insult.

Some groups used Facebook as a open call for violence against this population.

Recent surveys show that over 70 per cent of Montenegrins still consider homosexuality an illness and 80 per cent believe it should be kept private.

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