Mayor's anti-gay parade rhetoric during "giraffe wedding"

JAGODINA -- Jagodina town assembly councilors held an expedient session on Tuesday and then headed for the local zoo, to witness "the wedding" of two animals there.

Jovača and the wife are seen at the Jagodina zoo (Beta)
Jovača and the wife are seen at the Jagodina zoo (Beta)

Mayor Dragan "Palma" Marković presided to see five items on the assembly agenda adopted, and one contested by a lone councilor during a session that nevertheless took only five minutes to conclude.

The mayor and the councilors then arrived at the zoo to witness a male giraffe named Jovanča meet for the first time his mate, a female called Ema, in what Tanjug news agency described as "a symbolic attendance" of the "official wedding" of the local zoo's star resident.

Ema, who is seven and a half years old and five years Janča's senior, traveled to Jagodina from the Belgrade zoo. However, noted the Jagodina zoo director, veterinarian Vlada Jovanović, Ema has not had calves before.

The vet also informed the guests about the giraffe mating practices, and specified that these animals copulated "either lying down or standing", while their gestation period extended to nine months.

With this out of the way - and before the newlyweds were let out of their stable - Mayor Marković addressed the councilors and reporters to say that Tuesday saw him make good on the promise he gave last week that he would "get Jovača married".

He then went on to draw parallels between this event, and the banned Belgrade Pride parade:

"I made this promise because there were announcements that something was going to happen in Belgrade, some parades, exhibitions, and since it's a well-known fact that I'm a humane man and stand for human rights - and I'm sure human rights of those who constantly talk about something being forbidden to them have not been violated - I promised that Jovanča's wedding would take place, and I fulfilled my promise."

Marković, who also serves as MP and is the leader of the United Serbia party - a part of the pre-election coalition led by the ruling Socialists (SPS) - stated that, "of course, nobody is preventing them from doing what they like inside the four walls", and that "the famous Jovača was not a gift from the government".

"As Jovača reached his sexual maturity, we agreed to get him married, we secured a girl for him, which we got from the Belgrade Zoo, from Mr. Vuk Bojović, to whom we are grateful for the gift," the mayor said, noting however that he was "certain that Jovanča was the one that's most grateful to Vuk".

Marković expressed his optimism that the zoo would have "four giraffes in two years' time", and said the town was advocating higher birth rates "not only among people, but also among animals - especially exotic ones such as giraffes".

"Perhaps the time is not right to talk about animal weddings when we are trying to secure better living conditions for everyone in Serbia," the mayor conceded, but quickly added:

"However, I think this is important for those who think differently and my message to them is that it is a male and a female that should enter a marriage, and not two males."