The 2021-2024 Action Plan for the Promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of LGBTI People in Bosnia and Herzegovina was adopted after more than a year of waiting. We applaud this significant decision and hope that all planned measures are implemented effectively. Adopting a systematic solution through clearly defined public policy measures and activities of competent institutions aimed at improving the position of LGBTI people in BiH has long been recognised as a priority that must be addressed.
We note that the draft of the Action Plan was prepared in early 2021 and went through a phase of harmonisation at the entity and Brčko District levels before being adopted by the BiH Council of Ministers. The Agency for Gender Equality of BiH (AGE BiH) led and coordinated the writing and drafting of the Action Plan with other state bodies before the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees of Bosnia and Herzegovina (MHRR BiH).
The Action Plan is an essential strategic document that primarily focuses on combating discrimination in all spheres of society, primarily through training of judicial officials on discrimination, training of health care professionals, capacity development of relevant institutions, but also a series of proactive measures aimed at raising awareness of discrimination among the general public and relevant representatives of public authorities, as emphasised through Sarajevo Open Centre’s activities and annual reports on the state of human rights of LGBTI people in BiH (the Pink Report).
In addition to the analysis of the state of recognition, enjoyment and exercise of the LGBTI human rights and a review of the relevant international and domestic legal framework, the Action Plan contains very specific measures that will be implemented through raising awareness, organising education, creating and publishing manuals, improving the collected data, public advocacy etc. In the context of SOC’s strategic orientations, this will be an adequate basis and tool for continuing to advocate for, among other things, legal regulation of same-sex partnerships, hate speech, respect for the right to freedom of assembly, legal recognition of gender, health care and social inclusion of transgender people, and many other issues concerning LGBTI equality.
“Although a number of institutions, including the Sarajevo Open Centre, have been actively working for years to build their own capacities and implement a good portion of the proposed measures, particularly in the fields of judiciary, health care and social work, this document for the first time provides a comprehensive overview of what needs to be done in various areas of life relevant to LGBTI people, as well as a series of new measures that individual institutions in BiH should implement to finally begin realising the right to private, family life, and self-identification for transgender people and same-sex couples in all parts of the country, including FBiH, Brčko District and Republika Srpska. This is a clear and unambiguous institutional step that demonstrates once again that the issue of LGBTI equality is a matter of human rights and cannot and should not be a matter of political manoeuvring. Therefore, I congratulate the Council of Ministers on this step, as well as everyone who contributed to the adoption of this Action Plan”, said Emina Bošnjak, executive director of the Sarajevo Open Centre.
SOC will actively monitor and participate in the implementation of the Action Plan in collaboration with competent institutions, and we hope that such an important document will accelerate the long-awaited processes of improving human rights and equality for LGBTI people in BiH.