HRC Blog

Montenegro Pride Sparks Violence

Post submitted by Tushar M, HRC Global Engagement Fellow

Montenegro pride flagViolent scenes broke out this weekend at a Pride march in Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica, with far-right protestors clashing with police and LGBT rights activists. Montenegro, a country in southeastern Europe and a member of the Council of Europe, is currently hoping for accession to the EU, which will partly depend on the government proving its commitment to human rights.

Police forces commissioned to guard the event used tear gas and clubs to stop protesters throwing stones and firecrackers from getting near the authorized marchers who had been authorized. Around 60 people were injured, 20 of which were police officers and the rest were from anti-LGBT groups. Around 1,500 anti-LGBT extremists took part in the attempted rioting against the 150 LGBT rights activists, and 60 of them were arrested. No one taking part in the march was injured.

In July, LGBT rights opponents chanting "kill the gays" had attacked a similar march LGBT advocates in the coastal town of Budva. This march was the first of its kind ever held in the country, and was met with anti-LGBT shouting and objects being thrown at participants.

Activists were heartened by the presence of Montenegro’s minister of Human and Minority rights, Suad Numanović, which they took as a gesture of the government’s commitment to protecting LGBT rights. (No government officials took part in the Budva march.) Same-sex rights remain stifled in much of the Balkans by conservative, patriarchal attitudes. The influential Serbian Orthodox Church also opposed Sunday's march.

Despite recent acts of violence, LGBT equality continues to inch forward in Montenegro: The country decriminalized homosexual sex in 1977; Gays and lesbians are not banned from military service; And The Montenegrin Parliament passed a non-discrimination law in 2010 that includes sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

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