By adopting the law on amendments to the Anti-discrimination Law of BiH on today’s session of the House of People of the BiH’s Parliamentary Assembly (July 14th 2016), Bosnia and Herzegovina has finally advanced its legal framework on anti-discrimination.
Sexual orientation and gender identity are explicitly covered by the Law, and the correct legal terminology in local language is used (seksualna orijentacija, rodni identitet). The Law also explicitly states “sex characteristics” as a prohibited ground of discrimination. Bosnia and Herzegovina is the first country in South-East Europe, which provides anti-discrimination protection for intersex people in all spheres of life. The Anti-discrimination Law of BiH now provides full protection from discrimination for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Newly adopted amendments to the Anti-discrimination Law also introduce other improvements such as:
- Inclusion of age and disability on which grounds discrimination is also, from now on, explicitly prohibited (Article 2),
- Prohibition of discrimination based on the relation with a protected group/ground (Article 2),
- Improved definition of harassment and sexual harassment (Article 4),
- Clear definition of aggravated forms of discrimination (Article 4),
- Improved procedural aspects, related to urgent procedures (Article 11), specific actions for protection of discrimination (Article 12), judiciary jurisdictions and procedure deadlines (Article 13), judicial security measures (Article 14), burden of proof (Article 15), third party participation (Article 16), and collective lawsuits (Article 17).
The Sarajevo Open Centre, as one of leading advocacy human rights organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina, has taken active participation in this process. We have prepared, published and promoted an analysis about the Alignment of the Anti-discrimination Law of BiH with EU acquis (in the beginning of 2015). In the summer of 2015, our working group prepared concrete amendments to the Anti-discrimination law of BiH, which we presented together with the Agency for Gender Equality of BiH. The amendments were also presented to Ms. Semiha Borovac, the Minister of the BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and to the ministerial working group. In fall of 2015, we have been part of public consultations and in close contact with the ministerial staff.
Taking all into account, we are very proud that the Ministry has taken over some of our amendments and that those amendments are now a part of the adopted law.
We will continue to work on the promotion and presentation of the new amendments to the Law, focusing especially on the protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. At the end of this year, we will publish a commentary to the Law and in 2017; we will continue offering training to civil servants, judges and prosecutors.
You may find relevant publications of Sarajevo Open Centre related to the Anti-discrimination Law of BiH here:
- Proposed Amendments to the BIH Law on Prohibition of Discrimination
- Alignment of the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination with the EU acquis- Expert Analysis on Alignment