Press release on hate crime that happened in Mostar

Sarajevo Open Centre calls on Ministry of Interior Affairs and Prosecutor’s Office of HN Canton to process yesterday’s attack which represents hate crime on the basis of sexual orientation.

We call on the Federal Parliament to urgently adopt the amendments and include hate crime as a form of criminal act into the Criminal Code of FBiH.

Yesterday night, on the 23 December 2012, according to the web portal, a young man with initials M.B. has sustained severe physical injuries from two unknown attackers. According to eyewitnesses of the attack that happened close to shopping mall “Tuš”, unknown men attacked M.B because of his sexual orientation – because he is gay.

Sarajevo Open Centre wants to emphasize that lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are a target to discrimination and violence in B&H society because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but, because of the fear and distrust towards the state institutions, and because of their insufficient engagement in the field of protection of the rights of LGBT persons, these cases rarely get reported to the authorities.

This case of hate crime based on sexual orientation is certainly not the first one, but it is one of the few that made it into the public sphere and it gives a clear image of the situation that LGBT persons in B&H face every day.

Sarajevo Open Centre condemns this and all similar hate crimes based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity and calls on all levels of authority to react and publicly condemn this crime, and to adequately react in future to all cases of discrimination and violence towards LGBT persons.

Judicial institutions and the police should and must do all in their power to reveal the circumstances of this crime and its perpetrators, who should be adequately punished.

These cases indicate the need of amendments to the Criminal Code of FB&H and introduction of hate crime either as separate criminal act or its incorporation into the already existing criminal acts the way it has been done in Republic of Srpska and Brčko District. Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a member of Council of Europe and OSCE, is obliged to harmonize its legal framework with its assumed liabilities, which includes introducing the hate crime into its criminal codes.

This case, and other alike, have to raise awareness and increase sensibility of both state institions and the society at large, about the situation of LGBT persons in B&H and lead to adequate regulation and processing the discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and decrease homophobia and transphobia in B&H society.

We would like to remind that B&H has been critized for unwillingness and lack of engagement of state institutions in the protection of rights of LGBT persons the way they provide protection to all other citizens of B&H by all relevant international and regional reports.