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Yugoslavia Gay Activists Beaten

By Digital Journal Staff     Jul 2, 2001 in Technology
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Roving bands of young men attacked activists staging what was believed to be the first gay rights march in Yugoslavia's capital, circling them one by one Saturday and kicking them until police intervened.
Dozens of people were reportedly injured, including a half dozen police officers deployed to the capital's main square. Hospital officials said none of the injuries was life-threatening.
The melee began even before the scheduled start of the gay gathering, as dozens of soccer hooligans and members of a nationalist group appeared at the Republic Square to prevent the march from taking place.
One of the attackers told B-92 radio that ``we are here to prevent immorality in Serbia,'' while others shouted ``Serbia is not a gay country.'' Later the hooligans smashed the front door window of the offices of a moderate political party supporting gay rights.
Belgrade police chief Bosko Buha said in a statement to B-92 radio he had not expected so many and so aggressive anti-gay hooligans to appear at the march, and therefore had deployed only 50 policemen without riot gear. Some of the police were forced to fire shots in the air to disperse the crowd, witnesses said.
Buha said about one dozen attackers were detained by mid-afternoon. Police were chasing them throughout Belgrade and were expecting more arrests.
The gay pride event was just one of several marches being held throughout Europe this month to draw attention to discrimination against homosexuals and to urge political leaders to grant them equal rights.
An unidentified female activist told B-92, ``We will not give up our rights and our struggle to introduce democracy in Serbia. I am sorry that there are still people who promote hatred.''
The attacks appeared to be organized, with soccer hooligans and ultra-nationalists among the culprits.
More about Serbs, Yugoslavia, Gays