So it happened…
9 years after a last attempt of having a Pride walk (or gay parade, as many refer to it) in Belgrade, and 9 years after a bloody attempt, that is:
It was a wrong timing, obviously. Serbia early after Milosevic’s era and a decade of isolation was unprepared for such an event.
This time, however, the government and the police were on the right side and decided to show the world that they can protect those who want to practice their basic human and constitutional rights – to walk freely regardless how different they are from the majority.
It wasn’t easy though. Around 6000 hooligans, most of them supportive of extremist right-wing organizations and movements, were attacking whole day 5000 policemen defending the Pride. Shock-bombs, tear gas and demolitions of Belgrade down-town reminded us of the days we thought will never happen again… And again these criminal groups managed to attract the worst type of people to the streets, many of them being there only so that they can use the opportunity to destroy the shops downtown and steal new clothes. Carpe Diem, in a way…
Some of them used it for their political agendas, so they attacked and tried to burn the headquarters of political parties (namely Democratic Party and Socialist Party). I guess they looked gay with all their blue, yellow and red colors… (latest news: papers proving that Obraz, a hardcore right-wing movement, is one of the organizers of violence have been found with their arrested leader)
Some of them were stupid enough to also throw rocks at try to destroy the mobile mammography scanner, only because it has a TV B92 logo on it. As if their sisters and moms won’t ever need it…
Total damage was estimated at 1 million euros.
Photo credits and more photos at: Mondo.rs
In the end, there were 150 injured and 200 arrested. An interesting fact is that more then 60% of arrested are not really from Belgrade, but from other cities in Serbia. Dunno if this is a good sample of the whole bunch of hooligans or people from other cities are less experienced in fighting the police, but it’s still indicative.
I mean, I followed a good part of the happening from the airport actually. Was on my way to a business trip and there was a TV in the airport coffee shop, so we all followed Studio B (they really stepped up and did what national TV stations failed to do – covered the whole event thoroughly – kudos to them!) while waiting for our flights. Interesting fact was that the large majority (90% or more) were supporting the Belgrade Pride!
What does this tell us? Most of these people are probably not travelling for their first time. They’ve seen the world, they’ve seen how developed countries treat all their citizens equally and how everyone is entitled to walk freely and proudly. On the other side, you have a bunch of kids from small, poor cities in Central Serbia that have probably never travelled outside of Serbian borders, and have grown up in isolation, poverty and bad education system. Should we be surprised that they are easily becoming hooligans and vandals? Nope, I don’t think so… But I’m sure that this will change very soon – as we don’t need visas for Schengen zone anymore, travelling is becoming cheaper and cheaper, so these kids will eventually see the world and finally chill out. It maybe sounds stupid and simple, but I’m sure that’s the only way for this generation to change and make a difference between human rights and promiscuity.
So, it wasn’t easy, and I’m truly sorry that there are so many injured, but this is a big win for Serbia regardless. Violent majority will never again keep this country a hostage, and hopefully next year less people will see the Pride as a provocation of violence (how dumb does that sound?) and more people will realize that this is as much about LGBT rights as it is of the other minorities – Roma, disabled, war veterans etc…
(Apart from TV Studio B, the only channel of communication that worked properly and gave real time information was Twitter. Check out how it went at #bgpride hashtag)