Serbia’s LGBTQ groups rally after spate of attacks on gays
BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia’s beleaguered LGBTQ activists on Friday rallied to demand state action following a spate of violence against gays, including a stabbing that injured a young man.
The gathering dubbed “Hate kills!” was held in the park in central Belgrade that was the site of the attack, in connection with which police have arrested two suspects.
Three more gay men were attacked in late February, activists said, including one hit with a bottle.
“We will no longer tolerate such attacks that have become frequent,” said activist Aleksandar Savic.
Participants held flags and rainbow banners as they urged the authorities to act decisively to curb violence against LGBTQ community and promote tolerance.
Serbia is a staunchly conservative nation where right-wing extremists have gained strength in recent years under a populist government.
Authorities have pledged to boost LGBTQ rights as Serbia seeks European Union membership, but harassment and violence against LGBTQ people remain widespread.
Friday’s gathering was held under heavy protection from riot police. No incidents were reported.
Activist Ana Petrovic hailed police arrests of suspected attackers but said they should be followed by an efficient legal procedure.
“We are calling on the institutions to start doing their job,” Petrovic said. “Arrests should be just a beginning.”
Rights groups have reported a total of 68 attacks on gays since August.
Last year, authorities banned a pan-European pride march over threats from extremists. The march was later held following international criticism, but along a limited route and amid clashes between police and soccer hooligans.