Thousands protest gay pride march in Serbia

AP News
Posted: Oct 09, 2010 3:52 PM
Thousands protest gay pride march in Serbia

Several thousand supporters of the far-right protested Saturday in downtown Belgrade against a planned gay pride march, as fears mounted about possible violence during the event Sunday.

The protest was organized by a conservative group advocating traditional Serb family values and religion. Some of the protesters shouted "death to homosexuals" and gave fascist salutes.

"Cancel the gay pride march," said Vladan Glisic, the leader of the Dveri group. "The authorities should protect Serbian family values, and not the gays."

The march Sunday is viewed as a major test for Serbia's government, which has launched pro-Western reforms and pledged to protect human rights as it seeks European Union membership.

Right-wing groups broke up a pride march in 2001 and forced the cancellation of last year's event.

The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade said there is a high potential for violence before, during and after the march and has strongly recommended that its personnel avoid the downtown area for the day.

The police say 5,000 officers will be deployed to protect the participants of the march.