Four kidnappers took a young Serbian man from the home he shared with his gay partner, apparently on orders from his family.
MM, aged 29, was bound, put in a car, driven across the border into Montenegro and put through religious rites to ‘cure’ him of being gay.
He was held for a total of five days.
AA, aged 22, alleges a man came to the house where he lives with his boyfriend at 8am on 30 September – a Monday morning. His partner, MM, had already left for work.
The man threatened to kill AA if he didn’t cooperate, and took him into one of the rooms. He was tied up, given the phone and forced to contact MM to tell him to come home immediately.
When MM did come back another kidnapper entered the house and took him to a car where two more members of the gang were waiting.
One of the group stayed with AA until late afternoon so he wouldn’t be able to call the police. Meanwhile the other three drove off with MM to a secret location.
Later the kidnapper who had remained with AA received a phone call and left, telling AA he should not let anyone know what had happened to his partner.
But AA contacted the police straight away. Two days later he still did not know what was happening so telephoned the Belgrade-based Gay Straight Alliance to appeal for help.
He told them he was concerned for his boyfriend’s life.
The alliance contacted the Police Directorate in the Serbian capital Belgrade, who liaised with local police in the town where MM and AA lived and in MM’s family’s hometown.
MM was then found by the local police unharmed on 4 October in his family home.
Officers took family members to the police station to make statements. Meanwhile MM came to Belgrade to be reunited with AA and given advice by the alliance.
MM revealed that after they had taken from their shared home, the three kidnappers brought him into the car.
He was kept in the back seat between two of them at all times, with head bent and hands behind his back, while the third was driving.
A few hours later they arrived at their destination near his hometown, and MM was carried out and handed over to his family who were waiting in another car.
They took him over the border to Montenegro where he was held for two days in a ‘religious building’.
MM said they believed he was ‘possessed’ and gave him religious rites to get him ‘back on track’.
But when their efforts failed, he was returned to his family home in the Sandžak region in South West Serbia.
Police had meanwhile visited that family home but been told MM had moved away, they didn’t know where he was and that other family members were on a ‘business trip’.
When a police officer returned on 4 October to see if there was new information, she found MM in the house.
He claimed his kidnapping was ordered by members of his family who do not want to accept his homosexuality.
GSA reports the victim was not seriously physically injured but says the couple is ‘in constant fear for themselves and their partner that something like this could happen again or that the next time one of them could lose their lives’.
The organization is asking the authorities to take immediate action against the perpetrators and to protect the couple in the future.
Some details of the kidnapping, including the names of the victim and his boyfriend and the location he was taken from and held at have been withheld to avoid harming the ongoing investigation and any prosecutions that may follow.
While it is the first confirmed case they have dealt with, GSA suspects it is not an isolated one.
They say: ‘In practice it does not happen rarely that families of LGBT people, because of pressure from the middle and intolerant society in which we live, prejudices they have about homosexuality, religious and other reasons, resort to physical and psychological violence and various “methods” to make “convert” homosexuals.’
The organization adds that if family members are found to be guilty, it will be particularly ‘dramatic’ evidence of this problem and wants more protection for LGBT people before lives are lost.
Serbia is currently trying to join the European Union but is facing criticism within Europe for repeatedly banning Belgrade Pride and not supporting LGBT people.