On 6 September, the Council of Europe launched, in partnership with the Bosnian authorities, the SOGI Unit’s Bosnian version of the manual “Policing Hate Crime against LGBTI persons”. The event took place at the Hotel Europe Sarajevo.
The launch encompassed the presentation of Council of Europe standards related to hate crime against LGBTI persons and counted on the opening statements of the following participants:
- Samra Filipović-Hadžiabdić, Director of the Agency for Gender Equality;
- Drahoslav Štefánek, Head of the Council of Europe Office in Belgrade;
- Emina Bosnjak, Executive Director of Sarajevo Open Centre and Board Member of the first Bosnia-Herzegovina Pride;
- Saša Leskovac, Agency for Gender Equality.
During the presentation of the manual, Drahoslav Štefánek said the following:
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still victims of discrimination, prejudice and violence. This situation needs to change. I am glad that the Gender Agency in BiH in cooperation with the Council of Europe SOGI Unit from Strasbourg has continued its pro-active approach on this issue and translated the Council of Europe manual on 'Policing Hate Crime Against LGBTI Persons' in local language.
This training manual, launched in 2017, is a methodological tool to capacitate law enforcement authorities (police forces, border authorities, prosecution bodies) in the matter of hate crime on the basis of real/perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics. By comprising study cases, modules on investigation and working with civil society organisations and an analysis of the applicable policy framework, it aims to provide a comprehensive knowledge of hate crime issues and how to tackle them when LGBTI persons are the victims. The recent translation of the manual into Bosnian constitutes an effort towards expanding this training to different Member States of the Council of Europe.
Pride March in Sarajevo
The publication launch was hosted before a particularly important event: the first Pride march in Sarajevo, which will take place on 8 September. This first demonstration marks an important step in ensuring the rights of the LGBTI community to be visible and advocate for equality.
Sarajevo’s openness to hosting its first Pride comes shortly after a first pride was also held in Skopje, which in turn reflects the growing importance of LGBTI rights in the region. Speaking on this point, Emina Bosnjak, Board Member of the Pride organisation, said the following:
Pride March in Bosnia and Herzegovina is usually seen as some sort of unnatural celebration of sexual orientation and gender identities. Actually, it’s a protest, a chance to raise the general awareness of all of the human rights violations that LGBTI people are subjected to. It’s a chance to talk about all the violence LGBTI people suffer, that remains invisible, because the LGBTI community itself is invisible. Our civil servants and politicians keep asking us who are these LGBTI people we should be protecting and working for. This is our opportunity to give them a clear answer.
The Council of Europe showed its support by attending through the local office delegation.