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Montenegrin LGBTs to defy violence and hold second pride event this year

Montenegrin LGBTs to defy violence and hold second pride event this year

The LGBT community in Montenegro has pledged to march through the streets of the capital Podgorica after the country’s first pride march was attacked by hooligans in the coastal town of Budva on 24 July.

Organizers hope the Podgorica LGBT pride march on October 20 will be a test of Montenegrin authorities’ sincerity when it comes to protecting their rights.

‘Verbal promises are nice, but in reality, gay people do not feel many changes and they still live in discrimination and fear,’ organizer Danijel Kalezic with the group Queer Montenegro told AFP.

The group has been planning the event since the beginning of July but the attack in Budva has reinforced the importance that it take place.

Police had not been expecting trouble at Budva despite the US Embassy to Montenegro warning travelers to stay away, but around two hundred people pelted the few dozen marchers with rocks and bottles while shouting ‘kill the gays!’

A previous pride march had been planned for 2011 but was cancelled for safety reasons after a series of attacks on gay men in the city.

Homosexuality has been legal in Montenegro since 1977 when it formed part of socialist Republic of Yugoslavia and the country has had a non-discrimination law since 2010 that covers sexuality and gender identity.

The Montenegrin Government has also promised to provide some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples but these reforms have been aimed at smoothing Montenegro’s entry into the European Union rather than reflecting public opinion.

A recent Ipsos think tank survey found that two thirds of Montenegrins thought homosexuality was an illness and 80% said it should be kept private.