German gay rights activist who took part in a gay rights conference in Belgrade, Serbia, was severely beaten on Saturday 13th September 2014, suffering life threatening head injuries. The name of the victim has not yet been released, but reports from the Serbian Police, gay rights activists and the German Ambassador confirm the story, according to the Associated Press.
Jovanka Todorovic, from the Labris Gay and Lesbian Group, told the Associated Press that the man was attacked and beaten around the head with a glass ashtray, whilst his attackers shouted “we don’t want foreigners in Belgrade”. The attack left him with internal bleeding and head injuries.
Heinz Georg Wilhelm, the German ambassador to Serbia, stated that the man was “awake, but that it [was] still too early to say something”. He added that “If it’s true that the attacker said that he does not want foreigners in Serbia; that gives a new xenophobic dimension to the whole incident”.
Protesting the attack, hundreds of gay rights supported marched in downtown Belgrade on Saturday, carrying signs saying “Stop the Violence” and “Your Policies, Our Blood”. Anti-riot police were present to protect the demonstrators.
The incident comes two weeks before the first gay pride march to take place in the city since disturbances between police and anti-gay far-right groups halted the events four years ago.
The Interior minister, Nebojsa Stefanovic pledged that police will identify the attackers, confirming that he has ordered an intensive investigation so that the attackers are brought to justice. The BBC reports that three men have been arrested, but no further details are known.
Serbia has repeatedly pledged to protect human rights as it seeks membership of the European Union.
Serbian officials have previously prevented LGBT-Rights demonstrations, claiming that they could not control the anti-LGBT violence, but whether this may impact on their inclusion in the EU remains to be seen.