MEPs take stock of LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina

EC-Enlargement-PictoOn February 6, 2014, the European Parliament adopted three of its annual reports on the EU accession process for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro. Last month, MEPs already examined the situation in Serbia and Kosovo.

While these reports show that the authorities in Montenegro and Macedonia, whose traditional societies do not differ much from the BH’s society (which often serves as an excuse to the BH authorities for their ineptitude to implement the anti-discrimination law), are making steps toward better protection of LGBT human rights, EP emphasizes the need for an anti-discrimination strategy and for the implementation of anti-discrimination laws and policies in BiH. Furthermore, the Parliament calls on the authorities to investigate and publicly condemn the homophobic attack on  participants at the Merlinka Film Festival in Sarajevo, which took place on 1 February.

Fourteen attackers stormed into he discussion about transexuality, held as a part of the Festival. Four people have been physically assaulted, out of which two have been hit in the face. The other participants have suffered a psychological trauma. None of the official institutions, apart from the The Institution of Human Rights Ombudsman/Ombudsmen of BiH, condemned the attack, and the police, who were invited to secure this high security risk event, did not react in timely manner, in spite of direct violent threats to the participants of Merlinka on social networks.

This attack is just one of the most blatant examples of violence against LGBT people which did not garner an adequate reaction of BH authorities and it points to the need of systematic solution to this social problem, evident since the attack on the Queer Sarajevo Festival in 2008.

And while the government of Montenegro was commended for its efforts in creating a strategy for enhancing the quality of life of LGBTI people, and for its support of Pride marches in Budva and Podgorica by MEPs, as well as the work done by the Anti-Discrimination Commission on homophobic school books in Macedonia, the report also calls on authorities to fully investigate homophobic violence, and prosecute criminal offenses in a timely manner. Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “I am happy to see positive developments in Montenegro and Macedonia, but we cannot set aside the continuous large-scale discrimination and violence against LGBTI people in these countries.”