BUDVA, Montenegro — Dozens of extremists shouting "kill the gays" attacked gay activists as they were gathering on Wednesday for the first ever pride event in staunchly conservative Montenegro.
The assailants threw rocks, bottles, and various other objects at several dozen gay activists and supporters and at special police securing the event in the coastal town of Budva.
Police intervened to push the attackers away and the event continued as planned. The participants briefly marched by the sea, before they stopped to hold speeches as extremists shouted insults from the distance.
"Unfortunately, in 20 years of transition Montenegro has not matured enough to tolerate differences," an organizer Aleksandar Zekovic said.
Zdravko Cimbaljevic, who in 2010 was the first person in Montenegro to openly declare that he was gay, added that "I expected opposition but this attack is actually the real image of Montenegro."
Cimbaljevic said some activists were injured.
Montenegro, a country of some 600,000 people, is known for its macho male culture and respect of traditional values. Some newspapers published obituaries for prominent gay activists ahead of Wednesday's rally, while cafes in Budva — the country's key tourist resort — stopped playing music for an hour on Tuesday in protest.
Bosko Lukic, a Montenegrin vacationing in Budva, said that "I don't approve of violence, but I didn't know how to explain this gathering to my son."
Previous attempts to organize pride events in the country failed over threats of violence. Montengro's pro-European Union government has expressed support for the event and urged tolerance.
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