Approximately 2,000 police officers clad in riot gear protected Pride marchers in Podgorica, Montenegro, Oct 20 from being attacked by counter-protesters, who showed up armed with Molotov cocktails and stones, BuzzFeed reports.
The heavy police presence was in anticipation that the violence that occurred during a Pride event in the city of Budva a few months ago would be repeated. While the government did not have a representative at the Budva march, Montenegro's human and minority rights minister, Suad Numanović, attended Sunday's event in Podgorica, the capital of the Balkan country, which is seeking membership in the European Union.
Buzzfeed quotes Numanović as saying that Montenegro's EU bid hinges in part on its ability to show progress on the LGBT rights front. Among the attending dignatories was Mitja Drobnič, head of the European Union’s mission to Montenegro.
As Podgorica marchers, wearing T-shirts imprinted with the words "Proudly Montenegro," strolled through a well-buffered zone, authorities held off the attack by their opponents, who pelted stones at police, who in turn used tear gas and billy clubs against them.
The Associated Press noted that 60 people were injured, including 20 police officers.
At the end of the rally, march participants were ferried away to safety in police vans, while officers continued to contend with protesters, dozens of whom were eventually detained.
Danijel Kalezić, president of Queer Montenegro, called the event a success despite the violence that unfolded outside its boundaries.
"As of today, gay people are no longer invisible in Montenegro," Kalezić told media. "From today, these streets are ours as well."
He says planning for next June's Pride march is already taking place.