People carry rainbow flags during the LGBT+ Pride parade on September 17, 2017 in Belgrade. (ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Bosnia-Herzegovina’s LGBT+ community is to hold its inaugural pride parade this weekend, despite fears of violence.
The march will take place in the capital of Sarajevo on Sunday (September 8), where there will be heightened security in a bid to clamp down on any attacks by extremist groups.
The event is titled “Ima Izac!,” which means “coming out.”
Sarajevo is the last capital in the Balkans to hold a pride parade.
But, there are fears of violence as there has been considerable backlash to the event from senior political figures, with some calling for the march to be cancelled.
LGBT+ festivals in Serbia faced attacks in 2008 and 2014
Samra Cosovic-Hajdarevic of Bosniak Party of Democratic Action was criticised a few months back when she called for gay people to be “isolated from our children and our society” in response to the parade.
Islamist extremists also attacked attendees at LGBT+ festivals held in the mostly Muslim capital in 2008 and 2014 respectively, injuring several people.
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe commissioner for human rights, who is also a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina, has called for authorities to ensure that LGBT+ marchers are protected.
“I therefore call on the authorities to take all the necessary measures to allow the March event to take place in a peaceful and safe manner,” Mijatović wrote in an article.
“This is both a question of human dignity and of duty to uphold human rights obligations.
“I also call on political leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to refrain from any action and discourse that would prevent LGBTI people from exercising their human right to freedom of assembly.”
Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Bosnia-Herzegovina and LGBT+ people are included in anti-discrimination laws.
However, some LGBT+ campaigners have reported facing violence for living openly in the country.
Same-sex marriage and adoption remain illegal in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I therefore call on the authorities to take all the necessary measures to allow the March event to take place in a peaceful and safe manner.
LGBT+ rights in the Balkans
Sarajevo’s first pride parade comes as other nations in the Balkans appear to be some more progressive steps concerning LGBT+ rights, but with mixed results.
In Montenegro, a law proposing to legalise same-sex partnerships – drafted by the Human and Minority Rights Ministry – was blocked by politicians, following backlash from the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Meanwhile, Serbia has a lesbian prime minister – Ana Brnabić – despite having a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and no adoption rights for gay or lesbian couples.
However, the country does have anti-discrimination laws and it is proposing legislation to legalise a type of same-sex partnership, giving these couples some legal rights.