SEVERAL thousand Serbs marched in the capital Belgrade overnight in protest against a planned gay pride parade.
Participants ranged from families with children to young football supporters, some of whom gave fascist salutes and shouted for the death of homosexuals.
Police kept a close eye on the march from the city centre towards the parliament, organised by the extreme nationalist Dveri organisation, but there were no incidents.
“The state does nothing to help families yet it authorises this unnatural rally,” Dveri spokesman Miroslav Parovic said. “We want it stopped.”
Serbian gay organisations plan a parade in Belgrade today, having called off last year’s after the government said it could not guarantee the security of the participants.
The first ever gay pride parade in Serbia in 2001 was broken up in violent clashes provoked by right-wing extremists.
The Serbian Orthodox Church on Friday spoke out against the parade but also warned against violence targeting participants.
Serbian Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Svetozar Ciplic has said he will take part in today’s parade together with “at least two other ministers” and several members of parliament.
The representative of the European Commission in Belgrade, French diplomat Vincent Degert, has also announced his intention to join the parade.
In recent days anti-parade posters have appeared in Belgrade with the threat: “We are waiting for you.”
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned Serbia on Wednesday that the gay parade would be a test of “the maturity of Serbian democracy”.