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Serbian Prime Minister, Belgrade Mayor Join Gay-Pride Parade


Serbian Prime Minister, Belgrade Mayor Attend Gay Parade
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Serbia's prime minister and the mayor of Belgrade have joined several hundred lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists and their supporters in the center of Belgrade for a gay-pride parade.

Several hundred revelers marched from Slavija Square to Students Square on September 16, with the city center sealed off by police, for the final event of Belgrade Pride Week 2018.

Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the capital's new mayor, Zoran Radojcic, were among the participants.

Brnabic, the first openly gay prime minister in the Balkan region and the first Serbian woman in the top job, attended the event last year, along with the ministers of labor and state administration, as well as the city's mayor at the time.

The rally ended without a major security incident at around 4 p.m. local time, RFE/RL correspondents at the scene said.

After the march, dozens of people joined the rally participants to watch a pop concert at Students Square.

Ahead of this year's march, around 30 people gathered in Belgrade's center to protest against the event and were blocked by police officers about 1 kilometer from Slavija Square.

The demonstrators held Orthodox Christian banners and crosses, and sang religious songs. Some of them appeared to be Orthodox monks.

Protesters against the Belgrade Pride parade were stopped by police on September 16.
Protesters against the Belgrade Pride parade were stopped by police on September 16.

A police source told RFE/RL that three protesters were detained shortly before the LGBT rally began.

About 100 people attended a separate gay-pride march in Belgrade in June that went off without major incident.

Belgrade Pride Week 2018, held under the slogan "Reci da!" -- or "Say Yes!" in English -- featured films, exhibitions, conferences, and debates.

Organizers of the events put forward a list of demands for the country’s LGBT community, including improved official documents for transgender persons, the adoption of a law on registered partnerships, an educational reform to remove discriminatory content from school textbooks, and better protection from hate crimes.

Activists say anti-LGBT prejudice remains a widespread problem in Serbia.

The first attempt to organize 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 march.

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

However, parades were held in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 without serious incident but safeguarded by thousands of police officers.

With reporting by Balkan Insight

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