Montenegro's first gay pride to go ahead on 31 May

Montenegro's government has thrown its support behind the country's first ever gay pride march on May 31.

"I hope everything will pass peacefully," Zdravko Cimbaljevic of LGBT Forum Progress, a gay group behind the march, said.

Homosexuality remains a sensitive issue in the normally conservative Adriatic nation of over 600,000. However, the government is looking to show the European Union that Montenegro supports tolerance and equality.

Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said in a statement late Wednesday that the government will provide "full institutional support for the organization" of the march, which will demonstrate "commitment to European values of tolerance, equality and social inclusion."

Last year, a similar event held in neighbouring Serbia resulted in major clashes, with hundreds of extremists attacking police securing the event. Dozens of people were injured in daylong violence in the capital, Belgrade.

In Montenegro, the government said "law enforcement authorities will make every effort to ensure full safety of participants and maintain public order during the rally."
Cimbaljevic said organizers expect about 200 people to attend the march.

Montenegro and other states have launched reforms as part of efforts to one day join the EU after years of wars and crisis. Montenegro's government has declared EU accession its top priority.

Date: 15 April 2011


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