Belgrade, capital of Serbia
It’s been claimed that a Serbian family had their gay son kidnapped by a gang in an effort to ‘cure’ him.
The Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) in Belgrade has reported that the 29-year-old, identified only as MM, was apparently snatched from the home he shared with his partner by the gang.
The 22-year-old boyfriend, identified as AA, claims that he was attacked by three kidnappers at the home on the morning of 30 September while MM was at work.
The attackers allegedly threatened and forced him to call MM and ask him to urgently return home, which he did.
On his arrival, the gang allegedly tied up MM and drove him to near his family home in South West Serbia where he was transferred into another car and driven across the border into Montenegro.
There he was allegedly forced to undergo two days of exorcism in an effort to rid him of his homosexuality, on the basis that he was “possessed”.
AA reported the kidnapping to GSA and the police. Local authorities eventually found MM at his family’s home four days later.
Members of the family and MM were questioned by the police. He has claimed that the kidnapping was orchestrated by his family who refuse to accept his homosexuality.
The couple have been reunited but, reported GSA, they live “in constant fear” that this could happen again.
GSA said that while the kidnapping was a first for the organisation “it is not rare that families of LGBT individuals use physical and psychological violence and other ‘methods’ to ‘overturn’ them, because of social pressure, intolerant society that we live in, prejudices toward homosexuality, but also for religious and other reasons”.
The authorities are reported to be investigating the case.
As Serbia vies to join the European Union, the issue of LGBT rights has become a contentious one in the country.
While homosexuality is legal and there are some legal protections against discrimination, LGBT people still face social and legal challenges, including not being able to have their relationships recognised.
LGBT rights face stiff opposition from the Christian Orthodox Church and radical rights wings groups which have repeatedly threatened to disrupt Pride events in Belgrade.
In 2010, a Pride event took place in the city with heavy police protection. However, around 6000 members of right wing organisations clashed with the police; injuring about 150 policemen and causing several thousands of Euros in damage.
Since then, the authorities have refused to allow the event go ahead, citing concerns that another Pride march could lead to “severe threats to public safety”.