Open letter: Homophobes have no place in the Assembly

57 civil society organisations from Kosovo have sent an open letter to the Speaker of the Kosovo Assembly, Mr. Glauk Konjufca, regarding the discriminatory statements of the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights. Read the full text below.

Honourable Speaker of the Assembly Mr. Glauk Konjufca,

Through this open letter, we want to express our deep concern regarding the discriminatory remarks and behavior of Ms. Duda Balje, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons, Victims of War Sexual Violence and Petitions, as well as Ms. Labinotë Demi Murtezi, member of this committee.

On 7 February 2024, during the meeting of the committee with civil society organisations called by Duda Balje on the topic “The current situation in the protection and promotion of human rights in Kosovo” we faced another demonstration of homophobia and discrimination against the LGBTI+ community from a public official, at the same time a representative of the people of Kosovo.

Our requests are simple and clear: homophobes have no place in the Assembly! We cannot accept that an individual with such an important position, such as the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Gender Equality, Missing Persons, Victims of War Sexual Violence and Petitions, abuses the position and displays homophobic attitudes in the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo.

Duda Balje, in her public statements, has remained steadfast in her discriminatory rhetoric towards LGBTI+ persons. Using the argument of “personal opinion,” she has ignored the fact that public functions, especially those in the field of human rights, should take care of protecting and respecting the rights of every individual, regardless of sexual orientation or any other affiliation.

The slanderous and discriminatory statements continued even from the MP Labinotë Demi Murtezi, present at this meeting, who publicly stated that “LGBTI+ persons transmit diseases”, a statement we heard from her before in the parliamentary session on 16 March 2022.

Duda Balje and Labinotë Demi Murtezi cannot represent the objectivity and independence of a commission that has the task of protecting human rights for all citizens of Kosovo without distinction. Homophobia and discrimination have no place in a democratic and inclusive society.

On this occasion, we demand the immediate dismissal of Duda Balje from the position of the Chairperson of the Committee for Human Rights. We cannot allow a person with discriminatory attitudes to lead such an important institution for the protection of basic human rights in Kosovo. At the same time, we demand the dismissal of Labinotë Demi Murtezi from this committee for her slanderous and hateful language towards LGBTI+ people.

We demand that the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo reacts immediately and takes measures to guarantee that public positions are held by persons who respect and promote human rights without distinction for all, as defined by the Constitution of Kosovo.

Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS)
Center for Equality and Liberty (CEL Kosova)
Qendra për Zvillimin e Grupeve Shoqërore (CSGD)
Kosovar Gender Studies Center (QKSGJ)
Civil Rights Defenders
Kosovo Law Institute (KLI)
Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLC)
Qendra për Informim, Kritikë dhe Aksion (QIKA)
Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AGK)
Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT)
Lëvizja FOL
Community Building Mitrovica (CBM)
Iniciativa për Progres (INPO)
Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF)
Kosova Democratic Institute (KDI)
Prishtina Institute for Political Studies (PIPS)
Community Development Fund (CDF)
Advocacy Training & Resource Center (ATRC)
Kosova – Women 4 Women
Këshilli Rinor Kosovar (KYC)
Sekhmet Institute
Kosova Women’s Network (RrGK)
Foundation Seventeen (17)
Institute for Social Policy “Musine Kokalari”
Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRED)
Democracy for Development (D4D)
Organization for Increasing Quality of Education (ORCA)
Qendra për Informim dhe Përmirësim Social (QIPS)
OJQ Pishtarët
Advocacy Centre for Democratic Culture (ACDC)
Kosovar Center for Security Studies (KCSS)
Bubble Foundation Kosovo
Democracy Plus (D+)
Roma Versitas Kosovo (RV Kosovo)
Qendra Multimedia
NGO Aktiv
New Social Initiative (NSI)
Center for Legal Aid and Regional Development Kosovo (CLARD)
Astronomy Club Kosova
SIT – Center for Counseling, Social Services and Research
Iniciativa Kosovare për Stabilitet – IKS
Fourth Wave
EngineeringHER Future

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