May – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Equality Month in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016

lgbti osobeSince 2005, May 17 has been marked as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. This day is marked in more than 130 countries in the world, and officially recognized by many countries and institutions, including the European Parliament.

On May 17 1990, World Health Organisation (WHO) abolished homosexuality as a mental illness from its list of diseases and health problems. Since then, this day has been marked as an International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia as a reminder of the importance of LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans* and intersex) human rights all over the world. It is also a cause of many different actions, which point to the discrimination and violence faced by this group. LGBTI people make up about 3-12% of every country’s population, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nevertheless, BiH LGBTI citizens remain invisible in the society because of the violence, fear, exclusion and discrimination.

Until now, Bosnia and Hercegovina has not been working proactively on the combat against exclusion, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or sex characteristics, nor did it take adequate measures to ensure the equal treatment for LGBTI people.

Our neighbouring countries are far more advanced in this respect. Pride parade has been organized and carried out in Croatia for more than ten years in a row, and same-sex couples can enter into a legally recognized same-sex partnership. Slovenia has even gone further: same-sex partnerships are now equal to heterosexual marriage. Montenegro is the first country in our surroundings that has adopted a strategy and an action plan for the advancement of life for LGBTI people, by the group lead by the Montenegrin Prime Minister. The anti-discrimination strategy and action plan, including measures related to LGBTI human rights and people, are also being implemented.

The organisations Banjalučko udruženje kvir aktivista (BUKA), BH novinari Sarajevo, Centar za mlade Kvart Prijedor, Fondacija Cure Sarajevo, Liberta Mo Mostar, Omladinski pokret Revolt Tuzla, Oštra nula Banja Luka, Sarajevski otvoreni centar, Tuzlanski otvoreni centar, UNSA Geto Banja Luka and Žene ženama Sarajevo are jointly marking MAY – THE LGBTI EQUALITY MONTH IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA for the first time this year. We hope this initiative will grow and become an ongoing activity, which in future will bring together even more civil society organizations, media and institutions, in a joint fight for equality of LGBTI people.

Hereby, we are issuing a request to all institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the entities, cantons, cities and municipalities, concretely BiH Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and entity ministries, to intensify their work on LGBTI human rights. We believe that we should not let BiH be an isolated case in the family of European countries that guarantee equal rights to all its citizens, including LGBTI people. Let us build a state and society of equality and equal opportunities and not a state of exclusion and hate!

The programme of the above-mentioned organisations for the occasion of the Equality Month can be found HERE (update on April 30th 2016).