A man in Serbia was gay-bashed Friday night because two men thought he was gay. Their evidence? He was carrying a pink dog transporter bag.
The men got into a verbal altercation that turned violent with 39-year-old Ilija Vučević in a pizza restaurant in Belgrade.
Vučević posted to Facebook later to recount what had happened.
“Tonight I was brutally attacked in the center of Belgrade because two hooligans thougth (sic) that pink dog transporter bag is a proof that I’m a homosexual. Three lost teeth, one stitch and several bruises are the epilogue of the attack.”
He went on to say, “Despite not being a homosexual, tonight I am proud to ‘be’ one of them.”
Vučević told Serbian newspaper Blic he’d gone to the restaurant with his wife and two friends. One of his friends went to the pizzeria counter but was unable to carry everything, so Vučević went to help him. The two men accused him of jumping the line. He said that he was with the other man. When the assailants saw his pink bag, they made the assumption he was gay and they were a couple.
They began to verbally harass Vučević and he answered back.
‘That may have been my mistake, that I dared to answer back, and not keep quiet.’
It was only when his wife intervened and showed her wedding ring that the thugs ran off. Police and an ambulance were summoned and arrived quickly.
The posting has received hundreds of comments, with some local LGBTQ people saying this sort of violence is not uncommon in the country and welcoming Vučević’s pride in standing with them.
Police swiftly arrested two 26-year-old men in connection with the attack on Sunday.
Vučević, who is heterosexual, tells Queerty that the men pleaded guilty in a speedy court case and received suspended sentences. He is now consulting with a lawyer about taking potential civil action against them.
Although same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Serbia since 1997, the Eastern European country lags concerning other LGBTQ rights. There is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships and gay couples are not allowed to adopt. Belgrade only began to hold annual Pride marches in 2014 – following years of being refused permission by authorities.
In one sign of progress, however, the country has a gay Prime Minister. Ana Brnabić took office in June 2017. She is the first woman and first gay person to hold the position in Serbia.
However, there remains much prejudice towards LGBTQ people – or even those people simply think are gay.