In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, the LGBTQ community held its first-ever gay pride parade event on Sunday. Thousands of people took to the streets to celebrate, but it came under strong police protection as counter-protests were called by religious groups.
The gathering ended peacefully despite fears of eventual hate attacks, especially given the high levels of hate speech online. Bosnian police took heavy measures to keep the event safe. Important gay figures of the country were in attendance including them the US ambassador to Bosnia, Eric Nelson:
"It's so important for the LGBT community to be visible. They are here, they live here and because there is so much discrimination, a day like this is too rare. But it's a wonderful day because they are on the streets, it's a peaceful protest. The anti-protests were yesterday and they were peaceful. And the police have done a fantastic job, to make the streets safe for all of us."
In Bosnia, anti-LGBTQ speech is widely and publicly expressed. Anti-gay demonstrations took place throughout the weekend, one called by a Muslim group on Sunday. Sanin Musa is one of the protest organisers:
"The reason why we gathered is that we want to express our protest against the way of life of the LGBT population, which someone wants to bring inside the regular public domain, public space. They want to bring this to our streets, our squares, among our children. We are defending the right of our children to be normal. Our grandchildren to be normal. We want to fight against this; we are fighting against their LGBT way of life, which is being introduced into our schools, our homes, our universities. "
Bosnia is the last country in the Balkans to organise a Gay Pride Parade and it is being seen as a test for minority rights in a country that seeks to enter the European Union sometime soon. Dajana Bakic is a gay rights activist:
"So this is a protest against everyday discrimination and violence towards LGBTQ people, but also this is the way that we exercise our right of public assembly in Bosnia and Herzegovina".
Watch Good Morning Europe's report in the player above.