Story By: Ana Marjanovic, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Two Serbian men have been sentenced for attacking a man they suspected of being gay because he had a pink bag and only stopped when his wife showed her wedding ring.
One of the defendants has been jailed for a year and the other has been handed a suspended sentence.
The incident took place when the married couple was walking in the northern Serbian capital Belgrade and two men approached them because the husband was carrying a pink bag at the time.
They reportedly shouted “kill the gay, kill the gay. I sussed you out right away with that pink bag you are carrying” before one of them attacked the victim.
Meanwhile, the victim’s wife pleaded with the attacker to stop and showed the pair her wedding ring to prove the man, identified as Ilija Vucevic, was married to her.
Marija Opalic Vucevic told local media: “The whole time I tried to reach their brains and tell them that my husband is not gay and that I am his wife. They only stopped when I showed one of them my wedding ring.”
According to local media, the 26-year-old defendants, identified as S.K. and N.J., have been sentenced by a Serbian court.
The prosecution said that act was hate crime against a member of the LGBT community, which the defendants denied, according to reports.
One of the defendants received a one-year jail term for causing serious bodily harm to another person with a suspended sentence of three years.
His accomplice, who did not take part in the physical attack but verbally abused the victim, must serve eight months of probation with a two-year suspended sentence should he reoffend.
According to reports, despite having a lesbian prime minister, Ana Brnabic, and legalised same-sex relationships, Serbia is still considered to have a high rate of discrimination against the LGBT community.
In terms of LGBT rights, the association ILGA-Europe ranked Serbia 28th out of 49 observed European countries in 2016.
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