Belgrade: Some 8,000 Serbs marched in Belgrade today in protest at a Gay Pride parade planned for the following day.
Participants ranged from families with children to young football supporters, some of whom gave Nazi salutes and shouted for the death of homosexuals. Police kept a close eye on the march from the city centre towards the parliament, organised by the extreme nationalist Dveri organisation, but there were no incidents.
"The state does nothing to help families yet it authorises this unnatural rally," Dveri spokesman Miroslav Parovic said. "We want it stopped."
Dveri activists were distributing leaflets saying things such as "the state should help the family and not the Gay Pride" and Sunday`s "shameful parade should be annuled." Serbian gay organisations plan a parade in Belgrade tomorrow, having called off last year`s after the government said it could not guarantee the security of the participants.
The first ever Gay Pride parade in Serbia in 2001 was broken up in violent clashes provoked by right-wing extremists. Protestor Janko Milicevic, a 35-year-old accompanied by his wife and two young children, said: "The Gay Pride is an
imposed topic that has nothing to do with economic or social priorities of this country."
A bit further away a group of youths, dressed in black and with their faces covered by masks, chanted anti-gay slogans. Miljana Protic, 26, said that the anti-gay protest and
the Gay Pride march were part of freedom of expression offered by a democratic society.
"The constitution allows gays to manifest, I admit this, but I came since I also want to manifest my opposition to their intention to parade," she added.