Serbia: Gay activists march through Serb capital behind police lines

Serbian gay right activists marched with their first openly lesbian prime minister through the streets of Belgrade on Sunday, protected by police in riot gear as a helicopter flew low overhead.

Senior government officials joined hundreds of revelers on the Belgrade Pride parade – an event campaigners said was a test of the conservative Balkan state’s rights record as it seeks to join the European Union.

Seven years ago, hardline nationalists attacked people at the march, prompting authorities to cancel it until 2015. The European Union said in 2016 Serbia needed to do more to help minorities including Roma, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

“Serbia respects diversity, my message is that the Serbian government is here for all of its citizens ... the people have the right to march,” Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said as marchers waved rainbow flags and blew whistles around her. Read more via Reuters