A lawsuit is filed against the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo and Member of Parliament Labinotte Demi Murtezi

Photo: Esko

Today, on Zero Discrimination Day, we, five non-governmental organisations dealing with the protection of human rights, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Kosovo (YIHR KS); Center for Equality and Freedom (CEL Kosovo); Center for Social Group Development (CSGD); Kosovar Gender Studies Center (KGSC); and Civil Rights Defenders, filed a lawsuit in the Basic Court in Prishtina and a complaint in the Ombudsman Institution, due to the violation of the dignity and discrimination of LGBTI+ persons, during the plenary session of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo, dated 16 March 2022.

The lawsuit and complaint were filed against the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo and against the deputy Mrs. Labinotë Demi-Murtezi.

We bring to your attention that on this day, 16 March, the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo held a plenary session in which it also made the first review of the Draft Civil Code of the Republic of Kosovo. As we have all seen and heard publicly, during this session a polemical debate took place regarding the specific provisions of the Draft Civil Code, which had to do with registered civil unions between persons of the same sex.

Photo: Esko

We are fully aware that contradictory positions and controversial parliamentary discussions are a fundamental feature of parliamentarisation in democratic countries. But this freedom and the privileges that members of parliament (MPs) enjoy cannot be abused to stigmatise and demonise certain persons or groups of our society.

Neither the deputies have that right nor should the institution of the Assembly allow and tolerate such a thing. As we emphasised in the Lawsuit and Complaint, the Constitutional Court also clarified in one of its decisions that deputies have a privileged position in the exercise of their representative function, but their immunity and privileges extend to the extent that the actions and decisions are undertaken within the scope of their responsibilities.

In the plenary session of the Assembly of Kosovo on 16 March 2022, during the discussions on the Draft Civil Code, certain deputies have (mis)used the floor of the Assembly to demonise the LGBTI+ community.

This does not serve in any way the exercise of the representative mandate of the deputy nor the exercise of the law-making function by the Assembly. They have used stigmatising and discriminatory language against LGBTI+ people.

The leader of the plenary session of the Assembly did not take any action to disallow or sanction such language – as determined by the Assembly Regulations.

These statements of the deputy Ms. Demi-Murtezi and some other deputies, as well as their toleration by the Assembly, have violated the dignity of LGBTI+ persons, as well as had a humiliating and discriminatory effect on them.

Even the Ombudsman has publicly stated, regarding the language used in the session of 16 March 2022, that, we quote

“This was perhaps the clearest manifestation of the language of hatred and the non-tolerant and disrespectful approach to the rights of LGBTI+ persons”.

The Constitution and laws of the Republic of Kosovo, as well as the conventions on human rights that apply in our country, guarantee all individuals and social groups, including LGBTI+ persons, the right not to violate their dignity, protection from humiliating treatment, as well as protection against discrimination.

We have witnessed attacks or plans for terrorist attacks against LGBTI+ persons, such as the cases at Dokufest and the parade held in Prishtina.

We do not in any way imply that the Assembly or certain MPs intend to incite violence or discrimination against LGBTI+ persons. But, such an effect is produced by homophobic speeches and stigmatising characteristics, such as those of some deputies in the session of 16 March 2022 and, especially, their tolerance by the Assembly.

Therefore, through this lawsuit and complaint, we want not only to protect the constitutional rights of LGBTI+ persons, but also to raise social awareness – especially among the deputies – about the rights of this vulnerable community of our society.

Photo: Esko

Both in the Lawsuit presented to the Basic Court and also in the Complaint presented to the People’s Advocate, we have presented solid legal arguments. This was done based on the legislation of the Republic of Kosovo, as well as the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

Therefore, we expect that both the Complaint and the Lawsuit will be accepted and that this case will serve positively for the advancement of the standard of human rights and the protection of human dignity in our country, for all persons without distinction.

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