On Saturday “thousands” marched in Belgrade to protest the next day’s gay pride rally, making their fascist hand gestures and calling for the execution of homos (see bottom photo). And on Sunday (that’s today!), the Serbian parade still went on, a far cry from last year when the police said they wouldn’t be able to protect LGBT supporters. No wonder: This year’s event, the first since 2001, was not without incident.

Thousands of police officers sealed off streets in the capital where the march took place, repeatedly clashing with rioters who were trying to burst through security cordons. The rioters fired shots and hurled petrol bombs at the headquarters of the ruling pro-western Democratic party, setting the garage of the building on fire. The state TV building and other political parties’ headquarters were also attacked, with many of the windows shattered by stones. Several parked cars were set on fire or damaged, shop windows were broken, rubbish bins overturned and street signs destroyed.

The protesters, chanting “Death to homosexuals!” hurled petrol bombs, bricks, stones, bottles and firecrackers at riot police. Police responded with teargas and armoured vehicles to disperse the riots in the heart of the capital even after the brief pride march ended. The protesters hijacked a bus, ordered passengers and the driver out, and pushed it down a steep street before it hit an electric pole on a main Belgrade square. Several shops were looted. Belgrade emergency hospital said 57 people were injured, including 47 policemen, one seriously. Police said several rioters were arrested.

An estimated thousand revelers took part in the, uh, “festivities,” with some five thousand police officers on hand — in riot gear, on horseback, and in the air in helicopters — to keep things kosher. It didn’t stop protesters from hurling rocks and bottles at officials.

Though the parade was only a 10-minute walk (which required clearing three security checkpoints to enter), organizers ruled it a success — despite reports that one Swiss attendee was attacked in the hours after the parade.




[photos: UK Gay News, AFP]

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