03 Aug 15
Montenegrin Gay Activists to March in Niksic
Activists said they will stage the first Pride parade in the town of Niksic in September, after police banned two previously planned marches over concerns that there could be violent clashes.
Montenegrin NGOs LGBT Forum Progress and Hiperion announced on Sunday that the first ever Gay Pride march in the town of Niksic will be held in September under the slogan “Stop fascism – freedom to the people”.
“The slogan was chosen to symbolise that LGBT people are part of the anti-fascist tradition, and emphasises the free and progressive tradition of Niksic,” the organisers said in a statement.
Earlier planned LGBT parades in Niksic in April and May were banned by the police.
The parade in May was intended to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known in the country as the Day of Victory over Fascism, as well as to celebrate the second anniversary two years of the adoption of the government’s LGBT strategy.
Police however said it could not go ahead, citing threats of violence and possible attacks by hooligans.
LGBT Forum Progress and Hiperion said at the time that it was unacceptable that Pride marches were only allowed in the Montenegrin capital.
“It is unacceptable for the LGBT community that freedom of assembly can be provided by the state only in the capital Podgorica, in a district from which it is possible to completely exclude the public,” they said.
A separate Gay Pride parade in Niksic, scheduled for April, was also banned on security grounds after police said it threatened to attract a significant number of opponents.
During the first Gay Pride march in Podgorica in October 2013, more than 500 protesters, mostly football hooligans, hurled rocks and bottles at the marchers who only numbered just several dozen people.
Twenty police were injured in the clashes, one of them seriously. Among the 60 people detained, a third were under 18 years old.
During the last year’s parade in Podgorica, however, no violent incidents were reported as some 200 gays and lesbians and their supporters were protected by hundreds of riot police.
Homosexuality remains a divisive issue in the socially conservative country, as it does elsewhere in the Balkans.
Some surveys have suggested that 71 per cent of Montenegrins consider homosexuality an illness, and every second person believes that it is a danger to society and that the state should work to suppress it.
The Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, the most powerful religious community in the country, remains firmly opposed to gay rights. According the same surveys, 67 per cent of people believe the Church’s stand against homosexuality is correct.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)