The first Gay Pride march to be held in Belgrade from 2001 ended yesterday in a battle. At least 141 people were injured, 124 of them policemen, in clashes between security forces and youth groups homophobic extremists opposed to the manifestation of the homosexual groups. The parade took about a thousand people, wrapped in heavy security. But that did not stop acts of vandalism in the streets of Belgrade, which were stained with blood by the gang attacks nationalist skinheads shouting "the hunt has begun. Death to fags."
The Serbian center was realizing Emergency drip of casualties throughout the afternoon. The Ministry of Interior reported that 207 people were arrested, of which 100 remain locked.
Clashes between security forces and youth groups ultras (about 6,000) willing to break the march ended in the afternoon, following last for several hours. "It was the closest thing to a death march. The atmosphere was terrible," said one protester. Last year the parade had been canceled by the threats of the same factions ultras.
Serbian President Boris Tadic condemned the vandalism and called for the attackers and the organizers of the disorders "are brought to justice." The police lines, with more than 5,500 riot-joined helicopters that flew overhead. Before the march began, the groups opposed to the parade took to the police stationed at access points to the path stones, flares, bottles and bricks.
In the central square of Slavija police had to use tear gas to disperse a group of about 150 militants, who later moved to another place nearby where they smashed a police car and broke windows of buses.
In other downtown areas, gangs of counter-rioters smashed containers, automobiles, trolleys and a pillar of power lines and burned the building where the headquarters of the Democratic Party (DS), the chief of the ruling coalition. Serbian Defence Minister and member of the DS, Dragan Sutanovac said that this attack was an attack on people's lives working in the building and a sign of a great hatred that has nothing to do with the Gay Pride march, but this only served as their pretext. "This has been organized by national associations," he said after reporting that there are indications that the attackers also used firearms. "Belgrade has sent today to the world an ugly image, but has also shown the determination of the state and the police to object adequately to these groups," said Sutanovac.
The ultras also attacked the headquarters of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) of the ruling coalition and led by Interior Minister Ivica Dacic. Upon completion of the parade, participants gathered at the Student Cultural Center, also in central Belgrade, where they held a feast, and then were taken home in police cars. "The government wants to protect perverts," a self-proclaimed religious nationalist, 28, who participated in the attacks. "We will not tolerate threats," said a senior official with determination.
Gay Pride march was in the spotlight of the community authorities, who saw this announcement as a sign of maturity of Serbian democracy after years of conflicts fueled by ethnic hatred. The fighting has highlighted the extent to which intolerance is steeped in Serbia a decade after Slobodan Milosevic was ousted. This outbreak of extreme violence has occurred on the eve of the visit to Belgrade to carry out the Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton.