Walk on the wild side: Balkan anti-gay riots

After the riots in 2010, this year’s Belgrade Gay Pride was officially banned by the Serbian National Security Council, as a gathering of “high risk”. The Serbian police simply stated it cannot guarantee security to the participants, due to threats from opposition groups, namely the militant ultranationalist organisations who think gays are not Serbs and Serbs are not gay

Belgrade Gay Pride 2010. Police vehicle set on fire. Photo by Aleksandar Zec

The majority of these groups are more like off-shot fractions and ad hoc gangs, rather then proper organisations, sometimes connected to the church, sometimes to football and organised crime, and most often, all of that combined.

On the other hand, the Serbian police is no angel for sure. Just ask any Belgrader who has lived through the 1990s, or ask anyone in Kosovo, for that matter. So what’s the deal? Is it not the same police anymore?

Hardly. Check out the mean gear from last year’s Belgrade Pride: armed vehicles, jeeps, helmets, bulletproof vests, you name it. Not too many gays there, but an awful lot of robocops. With a bunch of hooded dudes flying stones around and Orthodox priests charging through the barricades like jedi druids, the picture is a testosterone-teargas spectacle.

In fact, it’s quite gay, isn’t it? The uber-gay clash, Serbian style. No women, just us, men. It’s so gay that if you threw in a few zombies, it would turn into a Bruce La Bruce film. Though it’s hard to tell who got the better end of this epic fight.

Belgrade Gay Pride 2010. Jedi attack. Photo by blic.rs

With the government’s ban on this year’s Gay Pride, everybody is at lost. Gays are stopped from exercising their constitutional rights, the hooligans can’t display their head-bashing skills and the Serbian police is at odds with its people, since it capitulated under threats of brainless adolescents with baseball bats.

Of course, we all know something else is at stakes here, but let us not dwell into the matters of “national security” now. Let us say we think the hooligans are gay as much as anyone else.

(Photographs from Belgrade Pride 2010 by Aleksandar Zec)

On the other side of the peninsula, at the heart of Dalmatian coast, city of Split has been known as the hotbed of Croatian nationalism, so rioting was expected during Gay Pride in June this year. Some of the local media reported “it might be even worse than Belgrade”.

However, the picture is surprisingly different compared to last year’s events from the Serbian capital. Belgrade hooligans must have been going LOL all over Facebook at what looks more like an over-policed Britney Spears concert, than anti-gay rioting. There were even some lesbians out there. Rainbow flags waving, dudes in plajeras, and even the cops seem relaxed. Is it the weather?

And yes, we feel sorry for all the guys behind the fence who don’t yet know they’re gaysome, because ignorance is not a bliss.

(Photographs from Split Gay Pride 2011 by Joško Ponoš, Ante Čizmić, Mario Todorić, Vojko Bašić / CROPIX via jutarnji.hr)

Published on October 3 2011 16:43 BST