Violence at a concert in Montenegro this week has prompted event organizers to suspend plans for Montenegro’s first politically sanctioned Pride event at the end of the month because of concerns that the government is not prepared to adequately protect citizens.
The incident occurred at a concert designed to honor International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in the Montenegrin capital Podgorica. Unidentified members of the crowd threw tear gas, causing much of the audience to disperse and seek medical attention.
In what was a separate but thought to be related incident, two members of the public were attacked. The assailants reportedly also shouted that people should not “spread” the disease of homosexuality.
The Montenegrin government has said it would take steps to adequately protect the planned Pride celebration, but so far no specific resources have been allocated. As such, Pride organizers have had to make some tough decisions.
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In light of these incidents, organisers of the Pride announced today they would suspend their plans for a public event on May. 31 They called on the government to provide effective plans to protect participants and onlookers during the pride march.
Speaking from Podgorica, Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: “Today we saw first-hand the total lack of political will from national authorities to protect LGBT people and their supporters.
“These incidents are set to increase unless the Montenegrin government send a strong signal. And as Montenegro further progresses as a candidate to join the European Union, all its citizens must be protected and respected by authorities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Also in Montenegro, Jelko Kacin MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament Delegation to South-East Europe, added: “It is deeply regrettable that the first gay pride parade in the country should be cancelled, due to authorities’ failure to unequivocally support the parade. The government’s genuine solidarity and public support is essential; formal approval is not sufficient, as it wasn’t followed by any concrete action.
“Today, Montenegro failed to demonstrate that it wants to progress towards EU accession equally fast, in all areas. Respect, protection and promotion of minority rights are a quintessential part of our common European values.”
Montenegro scored a 2 on ILGA-Europe’s recently released Rainbow Map and Index of 2011 which assesses European states on how well they treat their LGBT citizens. The scale runs from -7 to +17.
Montenegro has a sexual orientation-inclusive hate crimes law and offers LGBT-inclusive protections in the workplace, however it has never before tested its tolerance for freedom of assembly in sanctioning and properly policing a Pride event.
It is hoped that Montenegrin officials will still rise to the challenge however, and that Pride may still go ahead.
The Rainbow Equality index covers both sexual orientation and gender identity separately as well as giving an overall score.
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