Thousands of Police Officers to Guard Gay Parade in Belgrade as Threat to Marchers Becomes Evident

The graffiti above reportedly says, "We are expecting you" (and not in a good way) in reference to this Sunday's Gay Pride parade in Belgrade, Serbia. Graffiti (more of it below) has popped up all over the city.

Thousands of police officers will protect marchers in the country's first Gay Pride march in eight years. At a parade in 2001, participants were beaten by right-wing and ultranationalist groups.

Via Earth Times: "The parade is seen as a test for the country's pro-Western politicians, who are promoting the country's future membership in the European Union and greater tolerance.

The Serbian government said in a statement Thursday that authorities will defend the right of every citizen to freedom of expression and urged calm during the event."

Only one politician, Cedomir Jovanovic, leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic party, will participate — with his family..

This one says something to the effect of: "Stop gay parade".

Said Mladen Obradovic of the extremist nationalist movement Obraz: "Everyone knows what will happen if they go ahead with that parade of
shame, and the responsibility for that will be of those who organized
it. If they think they can poke the entire Serbian people in
the eye, they are gravely mistaken."

"Stop pedophilia":

The daily paper Danas echoed march organizers who said that the march would be a "test of Democracy" for the nation. Wrote Danas in an editorial: "This event will be an important test for the country and the society
in which we live. It will show how much we honour human rights, how
tolerant we are, how much we are willing to accept the civilized norms
of Europe to which we strive, and how normal we are in the end."

At a football match on September 17:

More: "Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic warned that the upcoming march is
a high-risk event and that clashes are possible. He said that some
5,000 police officers will be deployed to protect the participants. Serbian
media reported that hundreds of extremists and football fans from all
over Serbia and Serb parts of Bosnia are planning to attack
participants and police with Molotov cocktails and rocks."

Said Dacic: "No recent gathering in Serbia has had such a high risk. There are clear
indications that someone is threatening (the parade) and the police will react. I appeal to all people to express their stances peacefully, without any violence, with respect of public order
and peace.We will do everything to prevent any acts of violence."


  1. dbzeag says

    “This event will be an important test for the country and the society in which we live. It will show how much we honour human rights, how tolerant we are, how much we are willing to accept the civilized norms of Europe to which we strive, and how normal we are in the end.”

    – Well that test failed. Death threats to a group of people scrolled on public walls is hardly civilized or tolerant and it certainly does not show honor. And I guess homosexuals are the new front line shield for this? When did homosexuals become the benchmark for entry into the EU? Since when did gays literally become the gun targets?

  2. Strepsi says

    I just want to say how much I hate the phrase “clashes are possible” — as if it’s 2 balanced sides. But there is NOTHING balanced about these 2 “sides”. One is people matching in a parade. The other is hatemongers attacking them physically and with rocks and molotov cocktails.

    the U.S. media does this too to appear “balanced”, you can see it in the Healthcare Town Hall ‘debates’. As if a doctor discussing health care needs is somehow “balanced” by an idiot cracker with a gun.


  3. MKO says

    It’s hard to read about such evil…still happening in Europe. I’m optimistic about the long-term but what is still going on presently is outrageous. I can’t wait for the day when being honest about being gay is no longer courageous.

  4. says

    I was in Belgrade last year and had a fantastic night out at a couple of discreet bars and a couple of awesome underground clubs. Will be thinking of the guys on Sunday.

    That said, I was still freaked out by the incredibly violent, right-wing attitudes of my new gay friends towards neighboring Kosovo: several I spoke to had done army service, were also intensely nationalist, and basically thought the Kosovans should be eradicated. We were listening to Madonna at the time.

    I only tell that story to illustrate that this is a strange and scarred place with a history of all kinds of hatred. Here’s hoping the march, and the courage of a few, starts to change that…

  5. says

    Yes, Miloš is right and Tom is wrong, it’s “Stop Fags” — derogatory term for homosexuals.

    The gay folks in Beograd have responded with wonderful graffiti that shows, for example, Superman & Batman with the text: “Are you waiting for me?”
    Or Superman with “I’ve arrived!”
    I’ll see if there’s a way to post these from here:

    There is a Facebook group, Friends of Belgrade Pride:

  6. trey033 says

    I live in Belgrade (as an ex-pat) and I’m afraid that I’m sitting this one out. Good luck to you guys…this is no longer about gay pride…this is about Serbians proving they are no longer under the control of a few misguided ultra-nationalists who dictate what it ‘means’ to be Serbian.

    For certain, if regular Serbians (and they make up the majority of my friends) don’t wake up and start denouncing this kind of intimidation then they only prove that they have learned nothing from the past 10+ years.

  7. Dusan says

    I grew up in Serbia and I can confirm what Milos and Kevinvt said, the 3rd photo does say “Stop F*****s”. The message in the 2nd photo is signed “Gravediggers, South” which I presume is the name of a local hooligan gang.

    Serbs tend to be very spiteful and hot-tempered people, the use of the most vulgar expletives is common in their everyday speech, and homosexuality is normally deemed with utter contempt (or as an unfortunate mishap at best). I was very happy when I left that country for good.

  8. says

    I’ve mailed Andy some of the graffiti images in response to these. They’re pretty clever, and of course more artistic than the hooligans’ scrawls.

    James, unfortunately as we see often enough on Towleroad, just because you bear the brunt of one kind of discrimination doesn’t mean you don’t discriminate against others.

    Thank god most of my gay friends in Beograd are also pro tolerance of other minorities whatever they may be. Among most queer activists in the region there is a lot of solidarity across new borders, i. e. Serb queers get along well with Bosnian queers and Kosova queers.

  9. Against Violence says

    Serbs are savages when it comes to human rights: The Serbian Church even encouraged rapes and butchering kids during the 1990’s just so Serbia could get more territory. Wife abuse, rape and violence against “homos” and non-Serbs in endemic, yet the Church cares more about politics.

  10. Dragana says

    The parade has been cancelled by the government, claiming that it cannot guarantee safety. This presummably follows the beating of three foreigners – one British, two French – in two separate incidents this week. Those threatening violence are well-known on a larger scale. The authorities could target them pre-emptively if they wish. In some sense, the rhetoric almost demonstrates a sort of political maturity in Serbian, in that for once it is not focused on border and related issues, but instead, on a universal struggle for tolerance, diversity, and rights. That the rhetoric is brutal and the response spineless is unfortunately representative of other domestic dynamics.

    P.S. gravediggers are the nickname of fans of the Partizan sports club (and I’m ashamed to count myself among their basketball supporters).

  11. Milan says

    What’s happening in Serbia is somewhat similar to what’s happening in the USA – a partisan split between opposition right-wingers and the more moderate centrists holding power – only because of Serbia’s greater economic and diplomatic problems, the rhetoric is truly threatening and the tensions often become physically violent. The clash over this event is only a manisfestation of that greater struggle. As with the USA, it’s unfortunate that a minority of bigots are hindering national progress, although unlike in the States, the majority of Serbia’s population is much less progressive than the government.

    And it’s really unfortunate that I have to encounter the kind of ignorance displayed by “Against Violence” above on this friendly neighborhood gay blog. “Serbs are savages”? How enlightened of you. Thus is the predicament of the gay Serb highlighted – we deal with hatred not just from our own narrow-minded countrymen, but by our prejudiced gay brothers and sisters all over the world.

  12. James says

    I lived in that region for a long time and let me tell you, it’s not fun whatsoever being GLBT there. I wish they could finally have someone to champion gay rights for them and start the process of phasing out this old mentality of hatred. Unfortunately, there is a great number of young people taking part in acts of violence over there (as you can see by the people behind the hate banners).

    By the way, the 3rd picture does indeed say: “Stop faggots”.

Leave A Reply