Montenegro on Sunday held its first Gay
Pride Parade without violence.
According to Radio
Free Europe, about 200 demonstrators marched the streets of
Montenegro's capital, Podgorica, waving banners which read “Let's
Love Each Other” and “This is Just Beginning.”
Two previous events, held last year in
Podgorica and Budva, were marred by violence. In Podgorica, police
clashed with hundreds of anti-gay protesters who hurled rocks,
bottles and insults at marchers, while protesters attempted to
disrupt Budva's event by shouting, “kill the gays.” Activists
shouted back, “kiss the gays.”
At this year's event, some 2,000 riot
police were present to protect activists.
The AFP reported that ambassadors from
several European Union states joined the parade, along with
Podgorica's mayor and Montenegro's human rights minister.
Montenegro is in talks to join the EU.
“Human rights make part of the rule
of law,” Mitja Drobnic, head of the EU delegation in Montenegro,
told reporters. “Without results achieved in the area of the rule
of law, there is no progress towards EU membership.”
Anti-gay sentiment runs high in
Montenegro, as in most Balkan states.
On Friday, Amfilohije Radovic, head of
the nation's Serbian Orthodox Church, warned that by supporting gay
rights, Montenegro “is under threat of becoming a sodomite state.”
“It is important that we stand
together and say 'no' … at a time when rightist and fascist groups
are getting stronger,” said Sanja Juras of International Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) Europe.