Peaceful gay pride held amid police protection in conservative EU-hopeful Montenegro

Protected by hundreds of riot police, about two hundred gay activists have marched peacefully in Montenegro, a staunchly conservative Balkan country seeking EU membership.

Carrying banners reading "Let's Love Each Other" or "This is Just Beginning," gay activists gathered Sunday in the capital Podgorica, as police deployed heavily, practically blocking the city center.

No incidents were reported, unlike in previous years when police fought right-wing extremists and gay activists had to be evacuated.

Organizer Daniel Kalezic said "this year we had better cooperation with the authorities."

Montenegro, like much of the Balkans, has a strong macho male culture with little tolerance for gays. Balkan countries must protect human rights to advance in the EU membership bid.

Massive police presence also marked a pride event in neighboring Serbia in September.