Violent protests disrupt Montenegro's first gay pride parade

Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:42am EDT
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By Stevo Vasiljevic

BUDVA, Montenegro (Reuters) - Protesters chanting "Kill the gays!" clashed with police trying to stop them reaching marchers taking part in Montenegro's first gay pride parade on Wednesday.

Around 200 demonstrators in the coastal town of Budva hurled stones, bottles and flares at police who were keeping them apart from some 40 marchers wearing shirts in the colors of the rainbow, the symbol of the gay rights movement.

Protesters chanting "You're sick!" carried banners demanding to keep "Montenegro healthy". At least 10 anti-gay demonstrators were arrested and several marchers were slightly injured, police said.

Zdravko Cimbaljevic, one of the march's organizers and the first person to have come out as gay in Montenegro, in 2010, said he had not expected such a violent reaction, which forced the marchers to shorten their route to avoid further clashes.

Opponents of the parade had posted fake notices announcing the death of Cimbaljevic on public buildings in Budva.

"This is the true face of Montenegro," he told Reuters.

A mountainous country of 680,000 people, socially conservative Montenegro began accession talks last year with the European Union, but it has to convince the 28-nation bloc that human rights are respected.

Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic condemned the violence and said the government had to protect minorities.   Continued...

Riot police protect LGBT activists during a gay pride parade in Budva July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Stevo Vasiljevic