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First Gay-Pride Information Center Opens In Belgrade

People carry rainbow-colored banners and flags during a gay-pride parade in Belgrade in June.

The first gay-pride information center has opened in Belgrade to disseminate information about gay-pride week and a pride parade that will be held on September 17.

Organizers said the opening of the Pride Info Center on August 29 was a historic event, having "shifted the boundaries" in the conservative Balkan country.

The new center will be open until September 25 and feature photos depicting past violence toward gays and injured people on the walls. Gay activists say that despite improvements, discrimination and violence toward gays continues every day.

Last year, a pride parade was held without incident, and the gathering was safeguarded by approximately 5,000 policemen.

The first attempt at organizing a pride parade in Belgrade was in 2001, when its participants were attacked by sports fans, ultranationalist groups, and nationalist party sympathizers.

In 2010, parade participants were protected by police, but throughout the city there were riots and severe clashes between police and right-wing hooligans who opposed the parade.

Because of the violence, for the following several years, the authorities banned the parade, citing the security risks for participants.