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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Serbian official: Bishop must apologize to gays

Amfilohije Radović
Amfilohije Radović 

A Serbian human rights official said Saturday a hardline Orthodox Church bishop must publicly apologize for the anti-gay remarks he made after last year’s pride march that erupted in violence.

Bishop Amfilohije Radović violated Serbia’s anti-discrimination laws when he criticized gays in a speech, Commissioner for Equality Nevena Petrusic said.

Petrusic also urged Amfilohije to meet with the gay activists and advised that he should "refrain from making statements that incite discrimination, hatred or violence."

There was no immediate comment from Amfilohije or the church. The bishop could face legal action if he does not apologize.

Amfilohije is well-known for his nationalism and anti-Western positions, including opposition to liberal reforms which are part of Serbia’s efforts to join the EU.

In his speech, Amfilohije called gays "stench and poison littering capital Belgrade" and blamed them for the clashes that broke out when extremists attacked police securing the Oct. 10 pride event, Serbia’s first in years.

More than 100 people were injured and dozens detained during the clashes. The event was widely seen as a test for Serbian authorities, who have pledged to protect human rights.

The Balkan country has seen a rise in right-wing extremism in the past few years, with hardline groups threatening liberals and foreigners.

On Saturday, members of the Nasi 1389 group held a protest against the editorial policies of liberal B92 TV. The TV station reported that 17 extremists had been detained.

There was no immediate confirmation by police.


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