news 20 Oct 13

Podgorica Gay Pride Goes Ahead Despite Clashes

First pride parade in Podgorica has been held despite violent clashes across the city.

BIRN
Podgorica

"We did it! The four-year effort has paid off!"

So said Danijel Kalezic, one of the organizers, opening the first pride parade in the Montenegrin capital on Sunday morning.

Several hundreds participants marched in Podgorica Pride Parade carrying banners "Gay is ok" and "Love is love", rainbow flags and whistling.

Meanwhile, police clashed with hooligans and threw tear gas at several locations in the city as they were trying to attack the parade's participants. About 60 people have been detained by police, according to media reports. Calm has now been restored in the Montenegrin capital.

Authorities say some 2,000 police officers were deployed to prevent possible violence.

Citing its commitment to respect and protect human rights and freedoms for all citizens, the Montenegro government supported the Podgorica Pride parade.

"Based on this commitment, the Government has given full support to the relevant state authorities to ensure the safety of the event," the government said in a statement on Friday.

A coalition of non-parliamentary groups had called on people to protest against the Pride parade.

"The government is supporting Gay Pride, which costs tens of thousands of euros, at a time when most people are discriminated against, robbed and hungry," the group said.

The Podgorica Pride march is the second one this year in the former Yugoslav republic. Montenegro’s first gay rights parade, named Seaside Pride, was organised in Budva on July 23 by the LGBT Forum Progress, another gay rights group.

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

Podgorica’s first Pride parade was supposed to have taken in May 2011, but was cancelled following two attacks on gays before the start of the event.

In May, Montenegro’s Anti-Discrimination Council unanimously supported a draft strategy aimed at improving life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals over the next five years.

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