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Belgrade Pride March Passes Off Peacefully Amid High Police Presence

Gay pride marchers have rallied in central Belgrade amid a massive turnout of riot police and security officials aimed at preventing unrest that had marred previous rallies.

Several hundred people carrying banners and flags marched through the Serbian capital on September 18 as helicopters flew above. Police with dogs secured the area, which was sealed off to traffic for hours ahead of time.

No incidents were reported and gay rights activist Boban Stojanovic said the march was held with less tension than in previous years, when far-right demonstrators clashed with police.

In 2010, more than 100 officers and extremists were injured in rioting that damaged parts of central Belgrade.

Serbia has since sought to boost gay rights as part of its bid to join the European Union. An openly gay minister was appointed to the government for the first time last month.

(Text based on reporting by AP and Reuters)

There was a heavy police presence at the event, but organizers said the Belgrade pride march appears to have passed off without any major incidents.
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There was a heavy police presence at the event, but organizers said the Belgrade pride march appears to have passed off without any major incidents.

According to the organizers there was noticeably less tension at the parade than in previous years. 
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According to the organizers there was noticeably less tension at the parade than in previous years. 

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'Love Changes The World" said one banner. 
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'Love Changes The World" said one banner. 

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Serbia's first openly gay minister, Ana Brnabic (holding flag), also put in an appearance at the parade. She currently serves as the country's minister of public administration and local government. 
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Serbia's first openly gay minister, Ana Brnabic (holding flag), also put in an appearance at the parade. She currently serves as the country's minister of public administration and local government. 

A woman dances under a huge rainbow flag during the good-humored festivities. 
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A woman dances under a huge rainbow flag during the good-humored festivities. 

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