Offensive Speech Against LGBT People

Civil Rights Defenders is concerned about the public debate concerning the LGBT community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We condemn the comments in the daily “Dnevni Avaz” by the representative of the Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees and by the religious communities.

The article that was published on 31 March 2012 is based on poor knowledge of the subject, the use of offensive terminology, and quotes made by people with a traditionally negative attitude towards the LGBT community. For example, one of religious leaders of the Muslim community stated that “If they (meaning the LGBT community) announce a new public gathering, we will not just sit and observe”. This statement is especially dangerous, having in mind the physical attacks on the participants of the first Queer festival in Sarajevo in September 2008. The festival was cancelled and “Dnevni Avaz” contributed to creating an atmosphere of intolerance towards the LGBT community.

A deeply disturbing quote in the article came from Saliha Djuderija, Deputy Minister for Human Rights and Refugees. Instead of emphasizing that the right to assembly is one of the essential human rights guaranteed by national and international human rights standards, Ms. Djuderija provided arbitrary preconditions for the fulfilment of this right, by saying that “such expressions should not provoke conflicts and disturb public order”.

Civil Rights Defenders calls on “Dnevni Avaz” to respect ethical media standards, especially the ones related to marginalized groups. We call on the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees to support the right of assembly for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the LGBT community. According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, states must actively protect all peaceful gatherings from violent attacks and obstruction.

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