Police fought running battles and fired tear gas at homophobic protestors at Montenegro’s first ever LGBTI Pride march on Sunday.

The English language Russia Today website and TV station said that more than 60 people have been injured as opponents of gay rights hurled stones and firebombs at participants and police.

Over 2,000 police cordoned off streets in the capital Podgorica in anticipation of violence, while around 150 participants congregated for the march – mostly young people bearing placards which read ‘Kiss the gays!’ and ‘Everyone has their own rights.’

Following the violence, the gay rights activists, who had been told to avoid wearing clothes with conspicuous symbols, were loaded into armoured trucks and ushered to a safe spot on a military base outside the city.

Rally organizer Danijel Kalezic commented that the fact that the march took place at all was a success. ‘As of today, gay people are no longer invisible in Montenegro. From today, these streets are ours as well,’ he said during a short speech.

Kalezic also effusively thanked the police for providing cover.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, who took part in Podgorica Pride, congratulated Queer Montenegro, the organisers of Pride, for a successful rally, complimenting ‘their efforts and courage in organising this event in a very hostile environment.’

He added: ‘We also welcome the condemnation of the violent protests by the Montenegrin government and the efficiency of the Montenegrin police during the Pride. We also welcome the fact that recently the Montenegrin government adopted a national strategy to tackle homophobia.’

‘However, the government now needs to implement its national strategy to tackle homophobia and channel its goodwill into practical steps to tackle widespread homophobia and transphobia by introducing and supporting education and programmes which address those issues.’