Gay Montenegrins to hold second parade despite attacks

The Montenegrin capital will host a Gay Pride parade in late October in defiance of violent attacks on activists during the first such march this summer, organisers said Thursday.

"Preparations are underway" to hold the march on October 20 in Podgorica, organiser Danijel Kalezic told AFP.

Kalezic said the parade in Podgorica would be a "test of the authorities' will" to guarantee the rights of homosexuals in the former Yugoslav republic, which split from a union with Serbia in 2006.

"Verbal promises are nice, but in reality, gay people do not feel many changes and they still live in discrimination and fear," Kalezic said.

In July, police clashed with more than 100 anti-gay protesters, mostly young football hooligans, who hurled rocks and bottles to disrupt the first-ever march by several dozen gay activists in the coastal town of Budva.

Montenegrin Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic said the police would evaluate the logistics of securing the parade before giving it the green light.

In a highly patriarchal society, surveys show 70 percent of Montenegrins still consider homosexuality an illness, while 80 percent believe gay people should keep their sexuality private.

Gay people are largely invisible in the tiny EU-candidate state of just 650,000 inhabitants.

In Montenegro, as in most Balkan states, gays and lesbians live in fear of hate crimes, claiming they do not trust the authorities to protect their rights.

Last week, a gay pride parade in Belgrade was banned for the third consecutive year as authorities feared reprisals by extremist groups.