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Serbian LGBT Activists March Under Heavy Police Protection

Gay Rights Activists March In Belgrade
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WATCH: Gay Rights Activists March In Belgrade

Dozens of Serbian gays, lesbians, transgender people, and supporters held a World Pride event in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, under heavy police protection.

About 100 people marched in the city center on June 24 carrying banners that read "we want life worthy of humans" or "support matters."

The parade was organized by several local rights organizations under the overall slogan "Let All Our Voices Be Heard." Organizers issued a declaration calling for no tolerance of violence, improved official documents for transgender persons, and better implementation of the country's antidiscrimination laws.

Although security was tight and police cordons protected the marchers, the event went off without serious incident.

There were a small number of counterdemonstrators from the Serbian Orthodox Church holding a sign reading "No To Sodomic Revolution."

Meanwhile, the Serbian parliament convened to launch proceedings needed for the election of Ana Brnabic as the new premier.

If elected, the 41-year-old Brnabic would be the first female and first openly gay prime minister.

The pride-event activists hailed her expected election as historic for the staunchly conservative Balkan country, where gays have faced pressure and violence from extremist groups.

It would also put the independent politician in rare company worldwide, making her just the fifth openly gay head of government.

The AP quoted gay activist Predrag Azdejkovic as saying "that is something historical for Serbia and groundbreaking."

According to Serbia's commissioner for the protection of equality, a 2012 research paper showed that 48 percent of Serbs believe that homosexuality is an illness.

In May 2014, Amnesty International identified Serbia as one of a number of countries with a marked lack of will to tackle homophobia and transphobia.

At a gay-pride parade in the capital, Belgrade, in 2010, 150 people were injured as nationalists attacked marchers and clashed with police, leading officials to ban the event for the following three years until it was reinstated with an extensive security presence.

Serbia has a population of about 7 million people, the vast majority of which are Orthodox Christians with staunchly conservative views.

With reporting by AP