By Gordana Filipovic and Misha Savic –
Oct 10, 2010 7:40 AM CT
More than 100 Serbian policemen and civilians were injured and dozens more were arrested in skirmishes that broke out less than a mile from Belgrade’s first gay Pride Parade in nine years.
Police tossed tear-gas canisters to disperse anti-gay protesters and three fire trucks were dispatched to the headquarters of the Democratic party of Serbian President Boris Tadic, where a Molotov cocktail set part of the building on fire. In all, 85 police and more than a dozen civilians were hurt, while 60 protesters were arrested, said Interior Ministry spokeswoman Suzana Vasiljevic.
Gay activists were determined to restart the Pride Parade after giving up plans last year when police warned they could not protect them. The event was seen as a new test of tolerance in Serbia as it seeks to join the European Union. The parade ended in the Belgrade city center without incident as authorities kept the violence confined to another quarter of the capital city.
“It is clear now that this (violence) has nothing to do with the Pride Parade, but represents hatred unseen for quite some time,” Defense Minister Dragan Sutanovac told Belgrade television Studio B.