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What are sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)?

Sex is the sum of biological characteristics of the reproductive system, which, in essence, means the difference between the sex organs, hormons,

chromosomes and sex glands, while gender represents social construction refering to sex which is manifested through expected social behaviour that includes gender expression through clothes, haircut, make up, jewllery, colors, body language, etc.

Sexual orientation is the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological attraction between persons. Sexual orientation can be homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual. Discrimination is usually based on the grounds of homosexual (towards gays and lesbians) and bisexual orientation.

Gender identity is a subjective feeling of of belonging or not belonging to one of the genders that is not based on sex or sexual orientation. Discrimination on the grounds of gender identity is directed towards transgender and transexual persons.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is every different treatment, including every exclusion, limitation or preference based on real or assumed features to-wards any person or group of persons on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity with a purpose or a consequence to disable or endanger recognition, enjoyment or realization, of rights and freedoms in all areas of public life.
Discrimination is prohibited by Anti-Discrimination Law in B&H (Article 2).

Discrimination on the grounds of SOGI can be:

Direct discrimination is any predetermined different treatment, action or omittion to act which brings a person or persons in a worse position compared to the other persons in similar situations.

e.g. explicit prohibition of entry to gays and lesbians to a venue or the prohibition of blood donations for gays

Indirect discrimination exists when a simingly neutral regulation or practice brings a person or a group of persons in a worse position compared to the other persons.

e.g. employer has a rule that employees without children have to work more night or weekend shifts. As a result, LGBT persons, who have less chance of having children, work longer and under worse conditions.

Forms of discrimination:

Sexual harrasment is any form of unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal sexual behaviour that results in a violation of a person’s dignity and which creates an intimidating or humiliating surroundings.
e.g. you are walking with your girlfriend down the street and a group of passerbies yells: „Come here and let me show you what a real man is!“; someone sends you pornographic content in e-mails.

Mobbing is a form of non-physical harrasment in the workplace and represents repeated acts whose purpose is to humiliate and degrade a person and/or their working conditions, professional and personal integrity.
e.g. A colleague or your boss insults you on the grounds of your sexual orientation; remarks that „you don’t look like a man or a woman“.

Segregation is an act by which (natural or legal) person separates other persons on basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
e.g, in your sports class, your teacher/coach sends you to „play a game of table tennis with the girls“ instead of playing „soccer with the boys“; your colleagues don’t want to share the same office space with you.

It is also important to mention that issuing orders to others to discriminate or helping others to discriminate also constitute discrimination. Encouragement of discrimination happens when a person publicly expresses their negative attitude toward LGBT persons or encourages others to discriminate LGBT persons.
e.g. an influential politician expresses his negative attitude toward homosexuality, calling it unnatural and immoral even though he knows it might provoke negative reactions from his supporters.

How and where to look for the protection against discrimination?

Human Rights Ombudsman in B&H
If you think that you have been discriminated, you can file an antidiscrimination complaint directly to the Ombudsman by filling out a form that can be submitted to the Ombudsman through mail, fax or e-mail. There are Ombudsman offices in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, Mostar, Brcko District and Livno. On the website, you can find contact information for your closest Ombudsman office.

Vaša prava
If you need free legal aid or legal representation, you can contact Vaša prava, Ako želiš potražiti besplatnu pravnu pomoc ili zastupanje možeš se obratiti Udruženju Vaša prava koje je vodeca nevladina i neproftina organizacija koja pruža pomoc osobama na teritoriji Bosne i Hercegovine u svim pitanjima gradanskog prava i ljudskih sloboda. Vaša prava možeš kontakrirati preko njihove web stranice:

You are also protected by the legal/judicial procedure. This procedure will only begin upon your request.
This procedure starts with the complaint to the basic/municipal court in the area in which the defendant (person, company or an institution who/that comitted the act of discrimination) resides. The burden of proving that discrimination occured does not lay on you in the legal procedure! You only have to make your case and submit the evidence if you have them. The person/company/institution that comitted the act of discrimination has to prove before the court that there no act of discrimination was comitted.
If you have reported discrimination or have participated in the procedure for protection against discrimination, you should not and cannot suffer the negative consequences.

Sarajevo Open Centre
For additional information or advice, you can contact Sarajevo Open Centre, an independent, non-partisan and non-profit organisation which promotes active citizenship through political education and advocates for women’s and the rights of LGBT persons through equality policies. Our phone number is 033/264-421 and our e-mail address is [email protected].