Belgrade police clash with hooligans during Pride march
Serbia has been hit by a series of violent attacks during Europe’s biggest gay rights rally, in what could be a prelude to violence ahead of the general elections in mid-May.
Police intervened after “hooligans” attacked peaceful Pridetesters in Belgrade, Serbia, during the first European event for LGBTQ people in a generation.
Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Belgrade to mark the opening of the event and show that same-sex couples are accepted in Europe after World War II.
However, a small group of hooligans made way for police in what has been described as an “insubordination” of the march by protesters.
Some 1,400 police officers were deployed to the capital, with an additional 200 on the streets in the area.
The Belgrade Pride March started in downtown with a rally in front of City Hall, before marching down the famous “Prvi put” boulevard past the Serbian royal family’s summer palace.
After the official ceremony, people from all walks of life came together in the central park for an evening of festivities.
While police made their usual attempts to maintain order, hooligans began to disrupt the event.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, who was in attendance as the Prime Minister of Serbia and President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PAN), was one of those attacked while meeting people in the park.
Branabić, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was in a wheelchair, according to reports in the state news agency Tanjug.
The mayor of the capital, Ranko Ostojic, said, “I saw two youths who threw rocks at the mayor’s chair. I also witnessed a boy who was spitting out an ink pen and threw it on him.”
The march began at around 6pm local time (10am GMT). Thousands of people from all over Serbia began to walk through downtown Belgrade in a colourful,