10 000 Gather for Anti-Gay Parade Rally in Serbia's BelgradeWorld | October 9, 2010, Saturday // 17:37| views
A little boy holds a ballon during an anti-gay march organized in Belgrade, Serbia, 09 October 2010. Photo by EPA/BGNES
Some 10 000 people took part in an anti-gay rally in Serbia's capital Belgrade a day before what is supposed to become the first successfully held gay pride parade in Serbian history.
Carrying Serbian and church flags, and banners with slogans "in defense of the family", the opponents of the planned gay parade, including nationalist extremists but also many families with young kids, marched with demands for the cancellation of what they see as a "disgraceful" event.
The Serbian Orthodox Church has also been rather vocal in opposition to the gay pride parade.
About 1000 participants are expected to participate in Serbia's first gay parade on Sunday; those will be guarded by about 5 000 policemen.
Last year Serbia canceled the planned gay parade because of violent threats against the participants. The only previous gay parade in Belgrade occurred in 2001 but was broken up by far right groups and soccer hooligans.
In June 2010, Bulgaria saw its third annual gay parade with about 700 participants. While the police have managed to guarantee the safety of those taking part in the Sofia gay parades since 2008, the events have taken place amidst vocal criticism by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as well as provocation attempts by far-right extremists.
The most significant accidents occurred in 2008 when skin heads tried to assail the gay parade participants with Molotov cocktails, which led to more than 60 arrests.
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