Montenegro’s first Gay Pride march went ahead in the coastal town of Budva despite attacks by anti-gay protesters who threw stones and bottles.
The country’s inaugural gay rights parade, named Seaside Pride, was attended by an estimated 120 people on Wednesday in Budva.
The parade went ahead for around 20 minutes after delays caused by the homophobic demonstrators who threw missiles and chanted “kill the gays”, according to media reports.
A few of the participants were injured and police arrested around 20 people suspected of attacking the marchers, local media reported.
“Everybody who was against this today will be ashamed one day,” Aleksandar Sasa Zekovic, one of the organisers, said at the beginning of the parade.
He also praised the police for enabling the march to go ahead.
Rasko Konjevic, Montenegro’s interior minister, promised after the event that the police would be taking action against those who broke the law during the parade.
“We must not send a message that we cannot demonstrate at least an elementary level of tolerance of differences,” he said.
The parade was also attended by representatives of the government, foreign embassies and human rights groups.
Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic said however that he was unable to attend because he was busy taking questions in parliament, although he also told an MP that he was against “political parading”.
The announcement of the event, which aimed to give more visibility to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Montenegro, had already sparked some negative reactions.
Fake obituaries were published on the internet announcing the ‘death’ of Zdravko Cimbaljevic, head of the LGBT Forum Progress, the rights group which organised the parade.
More than 2,000 people in Budva, which is considered to be Montenegro’s summer tourism centre, also signed a petition against the event.
The announcement of another gay parade, due to be held in the capital Podgorica in October by another rights group, Queer Montenegro, has also drawn strong opposition and attracted hate speech on social networks.
Montenegro’s first Gay Pride parade, organised by rights activist Zdravko Cimbaljevic, was to have taken place in May 2011, but was cancelled after two attacks on gays in Podgorica before the start of the event.
The country’s hoped-for accession to the EU will partly depend on the government proving its commitment to human rights.
Montenegro’s former minister for human and minority rights, Ferhad Dinosa, was accused of making homophobic remarks and subsequently sacked in late 2011.
In May, Montenegro’s Anti-Discrimination Council supported a draft strategy aimed at improving life for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals over the next five years.