NOVI SAD, Serbia -- Several hundred people have gathered in the center of Novi Sad for what has been described as the northern Serbian city's first gay-pride rally.
The event, organized by the local nongovernmental group Exit with the support of City Hall, was held on Republic Square on May 17, which marks the official International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
Speaking at the rally, Deputy Mayor Ljiljana Kokovicalso described the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in Serbia as the country's most vulnerable social group, saying that they are exposed to violence and discrimination.
Novi Sad is Serbia’s second-largest city and the capital of the northern Vojvodina Province.
Activists say anti-LGBT prejudice remains a widespread problem in Serbia.
Organizers of the Novi Sad rally have said that raising awareness of the LGBT rights situation and increasing the visibility of the local LGBT community were among the goals of the event.
The organizers said that they had not received threats ahead of the gathering, whose security was bolstered by an increased police presence.
Gay parades have been held every year in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, since 2014 without serious incident but safeguarded by hundreds of police officers. Previous gay-pride marches were marred by violence.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, the first openly gay prime minister in the Balkan region and the first Serbian woman in the top job, was among the participants in the 2017 and 2018 marches.
Serbia's Novi Sad Holds First Gay-Pride Rally
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