German gay activist beaten ahead of Belgrade march

A gay rights demonstration in front of the Serbian Parliament on 27 September 2013 in Belgrade. Serbia Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption After Serbia's Gay Pride ban for the third year running in 2013, activists gathered in Belgrade to protest

A German gay rights activist is critically ill after being seriously assaulted two weeks ahead of a planned gay pride march in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, doctors say.

The man, identified only by the initials DH, was being treated in hospital for "life-threatening injuries", reports say.

Police said they had arrested three suspects, but gave no further details.

Serbia has banned gay pride parades since the event turned violent in 2010.

The 26-year-old man was in hospital on Saturday "with severe head injuries and bleeding, so he has had surgery and been put in intensive care," Dusan Jovanovic, of Belgrade's Emergency centre, told Agence France-Presse.

Later, Serbia's Health Minister Zlatibor Loncar visited the man in hospital and said he was awake and communicating.

Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said: "We will not allow this kind of thing to remain unpunished."

The incident, which happened in central Belgrade, comes two weeks ahead of the first gay pride march to take place in the city since disturbances between police and anti-gay far-right groups halted the event four years ago.

The march in 2010 was the only gay pride parade to go ahead in the Serbian capital since 2001.

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