Attacks on LGBT Human Rights Defenders Continues to Escalate

A mob consisting of approximately 15 men attempted to attack activists of a local LGBT organisation BUKA (Banjalucko Udruzenje Queer Aktivista – Association of Queer Activists) on October 11 in front of a nightclub in Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Civil Rights Defenders condemns this attack and expects the Police, Prosecutors’ Office and the judiciary to immediately investigate.

The incident began when the mob started chanting, “Kill, slaughter, so fags don’t exist” at the nightclub. While the men were eventually thrown out from the venue many remained in front the club with the clear intention of ambushing the LGBT activists as they left the premises. After a second call to the police, they were escorted to their homes and no further incidents took place.

On a previous occasion Jasenko Suljetovic also an activist from the Banja Luka and the Executive Director of BUKA received anonymous death threats through his Facebook account. During the Pride March in Belgrade, Mr. Suljetovic was photographed holding a picture of the Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church who is well known for his homophobic outbursts and rhetoric.

Upon returning to Banja Luka he received an onslaught of threats from extreme-right wing and pro-fascist groups. Hate speech was posted on Facebook stating that “they know where he lives” and pledged to kill him to avenge the fact that over “7000 special-force police officers and 500 civilian police were required for Belgrade Pride insisting that it represented a huge cost to the tax payer.” The threats were reported to the police but no arrests have been made.

“We urge the authorities and the judiciary to now do their jobs. They failed to react properly when Jasenko Suljetovic received death threats. Human rights must be protected and enshrined to avoid such hate speech in the future so all citizens can exercise their rights to association without fear of being attacked” said Goran Miletic, Programme Director for the Western Balkans at Civil Rights Defenders.

Civil Rights Defenders were proud to be the co-organiser of Belgrade Pride 2014 which successfully concluded with the first Pride March since 2010.

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