Serb gay comedy no laughing matter for Dubrovnik bishop


A SERB COMEDY film that takes aim at homophobia and nationalism has fallen foul of Catholic clergy in Dubrovnik, despite uniting audiences across former Yugoslavia in praise.

The Parade has pulled in more than half a million cinemagoers, defying all expectations in a region that is notorious for its hostile attitude to homosexuals and for the bitter national, ethnic and religious divisions that linger from the wars of the 1990s.

The film follows the efforts of a Belgrade tough guy to help out a gay vet who has saved his beloved dog after a drive-by shooting.

He agrees to provide security for a gay parade organised by the vet and his partner, and they set off on a road trip — in a pink Mini — to pull together a crack team from around former Yugoslavia. The Serb hard-man recruits a colourful band of wartime enemies-turned-friends, including a Croat, a Bosnian Muslim and a Kosovo Albanian.

Despite — or perhaps because of — its irreverent attitude to nationality and sexuality, The Parade has drawn crowds in all the former Yugoslav republics like no other film of recent years.

But the people of Dubrovnik will not be able to see it in their local cinema, which is owned by Catholic Church authorities who do not approve of its messages.

“Firstly, the theme of the film runs contrary to the view of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. The chancery of the Diocese of Dubrovnik shares an entrance hall with (the cinema) and to show the film and posters promoting it might send the wrong message,” said the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Mate Uzinic.

“The second reason is political, in that the film’s view of the war, of the different sides in the war, puts them all on the same level and in a Dubrovnik that suffered as much as it did, that sends out a message that the Diocese of Dubrovnik cannot support.”

The Adriatic port of Dubrovnik, and its magnificent old town, were shelled by Serb and Montenegrin troops serving in the army of rump Yugoslavia during Croatia’s 1991-5 war of independence.

The city had little military significance, but for Croatia’s enemies from the hinterland it was a glittering symbol of the republic’s relative prosperity and links to the West.

Gay parades are still rare in former Yugoslavia, and those that do receive official sanction often face violent opposition.