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Pride comes out into the open in tiny, Muslim-majority Kosovo

PRISTINA, Kosovo -- A few hundred people held the first ever pride parade in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, on Tuesday, to promote the rights of the gay community.

The parade, called "In the name of love," was organized by nine non-governmental organizations to raise awareness and end prejudice in Kosovo society.

With banners and rainbow flags in hand and music playing, participants shouted "There is no gender in love" as they walked peacefully between two main squares in Pristina.

There was only one minor incident when a group of young people protested against the march. Police kept watch.

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci also took part at the start to express the support of the country's institutions to the community and to insist that everyone was equal.

"We shall not let anyone in Kosovo exert fear and threats on any individual or any grouping," he said.

Some western diplomats were also present.

Kosovo passed an anti-discrimination law in 2004. This is the first Pride Parade, although the gay community has held small marches over the past three years supported by important political leaders and diplomats.

"We believe in a diverse society and that would add value to Kosovo society," organizer Lendi Mustafa told participants at the end of the march.

There is still widespread anti-gay sentiment in the predominantly Muslim country of 1.9 million that declared independence in 2008.

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