BELGRADE – Gay pride marchers have rallied in central Belgrade amid a massive turnout of riot police and security officials aimed at preventing unrest that had marred previous rallies.

Several hundred people carrying banners and flags marched through the Serbian capital on September 18 as helicopters flew above. Police with dogs secured the area, which was sealed off to traffic for hours ahead of time.

No incidents were reported and gay rights activist Boban Stojanovic said the march was held with less tension than in previous years, when far-right demonstrators clashed with police.

In 2010, more than 100 officers and extremists were injured in rioting that damaged parts of central Belgrade.

Serbia has since sought to boost gay rights as part of its bid to join the European Union. An openly gay minister was appointed to the government for the first time last month.