Masked thugs have attacked LGBT activists at a cultural event in Sarajevo, leading to the hospitalisation of two participants.

Human Rights Watch reported that on Saturday about a dozen masked people stormed into the Merlinka Festival at the Sarajevo art cinema Kriterion at about 3:20 pm.

The attackers shouted homophobic insults such as, “There will be no [Pride] parade in Sarajevo” and, “There will be no faggots in Sarajevo,” then attacked three of the participants.

Two were hospitalised with minor injuries and psychological trauma. A police investigation is under way, but no arrests have been made.

Because a group on Facebook had posted numerous threats and incited violence against LGBT activists, the event’s organisers, the Sarajevo Open Centre, had made arrangements three weeks earlier for police officers to be at the festival.

They were meant to be there half an hour before the start of the event but no officers had arrived at the time of the attack. The police reportedly appeared just after the attackers left and did not explain the delay.

“Bosnian LGBT activists and their supporters should be able to gather without being the targets of homophobic attacks,” said Lydia Gall, Balkans and Eastern Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Bosnian authorities need to make clear that the attackers will be found and prosecuted.”

The United States embassy condemned the attack, saying, “There is no place for hatred and intolerance in modern society” and, “LGBT rights are human rights.”

The European Union Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina also condemned the attack and called on the authorities “to identify those responsible and bring them to justice swiftly.” But neither officials from the Sarajevo Cantonal or the central government have condemned the attack.

This is not the first time police in Bosnia and Herzegovina have failed to safeguard LGBT activists. In 2008, Sarajevo police failed to protect organisers and participants of the Queer Sarajevo Festival. Nobody has been charged with attacks on eight people during that event.

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