LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Europe-Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg
Location of  LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina  (green)

in Europe  (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

Same-sex sexual intercourse legal status Legal since 1996 (Federation of Bosnia),
1998 (Republika Srpska)
Gender identity/expression Transgender people allowed to change gender
Military service Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve
Discrimination protections Yes (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex relationships
Adoption

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity are legal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a secular country composed of mainly Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Christians. While officially secular, religion plays an important role in Bosnian society. As such, attitudes towards members of the LGBT community tend to be quite conservative, much like other Eastern European countries.[1] Many LGBT events, most notably the 2008 Queer Sarajevo Festival, have ended in violence, after Islamic radicals attacked the crowds and chanted extremist phrases. According to a 2015 survey, 51% of LGBT Bosnians reported some form of discrimination directed against them, including verbal abuse, harassment and even physical violence.[2]

Nevertheless, attitudes are changing. In 2016, the Government approved a comprehensive anti-discrimination law, banning discrimination on account of one's sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. More and more gay bars and venues have opened, especially in the capital city of Sarajevo.[1] Bosnia and Herzegovina's desire to join the European Union has also played an important role in the Government's approach to LGBT rights.[3] The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association has ranked Bosnia and Herzegovina 27th out of 49 European countries in terms of LGBT rights legislation.[4]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Bosnia and Herzegovina is governed by two political entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996 and in the Republika Srpska in 1998, by those two entities adopting their own criminal laws.[5] The age of consent is 14, regardless of sexual orientation (having sexual relations with a person under 14 is considered statutory rape).[6]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples on a national or subnational level. The Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina remains silent on gender eligibility for a marriage, and on a subnational scale, both entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, as prescribed by their respective family codes.[7]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Article 12 of the Law on Equality of Sexes, adopted in early 2003, prohibits discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation.[8] Sexual orientation is not explicitly defined, however.

The labour law of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) also explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, as does Brčko District's labour law.[3]

The Law Against Discrimination was adopted in 2009, prohibiting discrimination based on sex, gender expression and sexual orientation. Furthermore, the law forbids harassment (Bosnian: uznemiravanje) and segregation (Bosnian: segregacija) on the basis of sexual orientation.[9]

In July 2016, the Bosnian and Herzegovinan Parliament adopted a bill amending anti-discrimination laws to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.[10][11]

Hate crime laws[edit]

In April 2016, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina approved amendments to its Criminal Code by outlawing hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The law was published in the official gazette on 15 June 2016. Similar bans already existed in the Republic Srpska and the Brčko District.[12][13][14]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Transgender people may change their legal gender in Bosnia and Herzegovina after having undergone sex reassignment surgery and other medical treatments.[3][4]

Activism[edit]

Quite a few organizations have been working on LGBT rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Organisation Q (Udruženje Q) was the first LGBT organization to register in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Organization Q works for "the promotion and protection of culture, identities and human rights of queer persons", and was founded in September 2002. It formally registered in February 2004.[5]

Logos was initially registered at the end of 2005 under the name of the Initiative for Visibility of Queer Muslims (IIVQM), but shortly after changed its name to Logos and re-registered in 2006.[5] Equilibrium was registered in mid-2009 and was the first organization to work out of Banja Luka. Both organizations closed after two years.[3]

Other organizations include Okvir and Simosyon, which both registered in 2011, Viktorija, the Sarajevo Open Centre (Sarajevski Otvoreni Centar), BUKA (Banja Luka Association of Queer Activists; Bosnian: Banjalučko Udruženje Kvir Aktivista) which registered in 2013, LibertaMo Association, which began working in 2015, and the Mostar and the Tuzla open centers.[3][5]

As of October 2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of only two Balkan nations (Macedonia being the other) that have never held a gay pride parade.[15]

Queer Sarajevo Festival 2008 incident[edit]

Approximately a dozen individuals were attacked at the end of the first day of the Queer Sarajevo Festival on 24 September 2008. Eight people, one policeman included, were reported to have been injured after a large group of Islamic fundamentalists and hooligans attacked visitors and the crowds. According to the organizers of the four-day event, police allowed a non-approved protest and anti-gay protestors to get too close to the venue thus endangering the participants.[16]

The festival, organised by Organization Q, opened in the Academy of Fine Arts in the centre of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The attacks forced the organizers to make the rest of the festival a private event and to cancel it a couple of days later. Although Organization Q had organized public events before, this festival was the first cultural event of this kind in history of Sarajevo.[16]

In 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled that the authorities had failed to protect the freedom of assembly of the 2008 festival participants.[3]

2014 Merlinka Festival incident[edit]

On 1 February 2014, fourteen masked men stormed into the Merlinka Festival, shouting homophobic insults. Three participants were injured. Police arrived just after the attackers left, and were criticised for doing very little in finding and prosecuting the attackers.[17] The festival continued the following day, with no incident, and with the full protection of the police force.[4]

Public opinion[edit]

A 2015 survey found 44% of Bosnians would try to cure their child if he/she came out as gay. Another 11% stated that they would stop communicating with their child altogether.[3]

A 2015 poll found that 30% of Bosnia and Herzegovina's population supported granting same-sex couples some rights associated with marriage, such as economic and social rights for instance.[3]

According to a Pew Research poll published in 2017, 13% of respondents in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported same-sex marriage, with 84% opposed.[18]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1998)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1998)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (Since 2003)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2003)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2009)
Hate crimes laws include sexual orientation and gender identity Yes (Nationwide since 2016)
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Recognition of adoption for single people regardless of sexual orientation Yes
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender Yes
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
Conversion therapy banned on minors No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]