Serbian gang kidnaps gay man in order to ‘cure’ him of sexuality at request of family

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A 22-year-old gay man says his partner was kidnapped by a gang of four last month in eastern Serbia in a bid to change his sexuality.

According to Serbian campaign group Gej Strejt Alijansa (GSA), the victim, aged 29, known only as MM, was kidnapped on 30 September by unknown assailants at the request of his family.

AA told GSA that a man came to the house where he lives with MM – although MM had already left for work.

The man threatened to “bury” AA if he didn’t cooperate and then took him into one of the rooms. He was tied up, forced to phone MM in order to tell him to come home immediately. On MM’s return, another kidnapper entered the house and took him to a car where two more members of the gang were waiting.

One of the group stayed with AA until late afternoon so he wouldn’t be able to contact the police.

The other three drove off with MM to a secret location.

Later the kidnapper who had remained with AA received a phone call and left, telling AA he should not let anyone know what had happened to his partner.

But AA contacted police straight away – and two days later told GSA of what had happened.

MM was found by police, unharmed, last Friday.

He says he was held in a religious building in Montenegro for two days and told that he was “possessed”.

MM claims he was made to undergo a religious ritual in order to be put on the “right track”.

But when it failed, he was returned to his family home in the Sandžak region in South West Serbia. Prior to his discovery police had visited the family home but were told they didn’t know of his whereabouts.

GSA says the victim was not seriously physically injured but is now living “in constant fear”.

“GSA urges all relevant state institutions and officials to commit to systemic decreasing of homophobia as soon as possible,” the group said in a statement.

Serbia is known for violent homophobia. LGBT pride events have frequently been cancelled because of threats of violence from right-wing extremists.