Hundreds of participants successfully staged Sunday what became Serbia’s first-ever Gay Pride parade through central Belgrade but with severe incidents of violence from anti-gay protesters. Before , during and after the short march, hundreds of thugs with bricks, flares and even Molotov Cocktails (Petrol bombs) were thrown at police protecting a gay pride march Sunday in Belgrade. Chanting “death to homosexuals Anti-gay thugs also trashed the seat of the ruling Democratic Party, setting one part of the building on fire. And at one point the anti-gay protesters hijacked a bus, ordered all of its passengers and the driver out, and pushed it down a steep street before hit an electric pole on a main Belgrade square.
About 40 police officers were injured, and about 60 people were arrested, according to the Interior Ministery’s Suzana Vasiljevic . Thnakfully not one of the marchers were injured.
The clashes left central Belgrade looking like a war zone with broken street signs, smashed windows, destroyed vehicles, garbage bins, lost shoes and sneakers strewn on the pavement.
Some 5,000 to 6,000 police officers in full riot gear, some on horseback and with the backup of police helicopters the actual parade went smoothly, as police blocked off the march route and the streets around it with heavy cordons. Hundreds of gays, lesbians and supporters of the parade, including Serbian and foreign officials, gathered in the Manjez park for the short march through three nearby streets.
Right-wing groups say the gay events are contrary to Serbian family and religious values. Most of the rioters Sunday were young football fans whose groups have been infiltrated by neo-Nazi and other extremist organizations, including support for the anti-gay protests by the Serbian Catholic Church
Senior Justice Ministry official Slobodan Homen said that the state response will be “fierce.” He said that the city center is covered with surveillance cameras and that the rioters have been identified and many already detained. He said they could face up to eight years in prison.