LGBT rights in Kosovo
|Status||Legal since 1858 when part of the Ottoman Empire, again in 1994 as part of Yugoslavia|
|Gender identity||Transgender people not permitted to change legal gender|
|Military||Gay, lesbian and bisexual people allowed to serve openly|
|Discrimination protections||Sexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)|
|Recognition of relationships||No recognition|
|Adoption||Any single person allowed to adopt|
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights in Kosovo[a] have improved in recent years, most notably with the adoption of the new Constitution, banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, homosexuality is still viewed by Kosovar society as a taboo topic.
The Government of Kosovo is supportive of the country's LGBT community. In late 2013, the Parliament Assembly passed a bill to create a coordinating group for the LGBT community. On 17 May 2014, well-known politicians and diplomats, including British Ambassador Ian Cliff and several local LGBT organizations took to the streets of Pristina to march against homophobia. The event was welcomed by the European Union office in Kosovo, as well as by the government itself. A large LGBT flag covered the front side of the government building that night. The first-ever gay pride parade in Kosovo was held in Pristina on 17 May 2016, in which a few hundred people marched through the streets of the capital. The march was also attended by President Hashim Thaçi as well as the British and U.S. ambassadors to Kosovo.
Law regarding same-sex sexual activity
The Yugoslav Criminal Code of 1929 banned "lewdness against the order of nature" (anal intercourse). The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also restricted the offense to same-sex anal intercourse, with the maximum sentence reduced to 1 to 2 years' imprisonment in 1959.
In 2004, during the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) period, the legal age of consent was set at 14 regardless of the individual's gender or sexual orientation, and all sexual offenses were made gender-neutral.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Same-sex sexual intercourse has remained legal. This period has also seen an increasing visibility for the LGBT community, and discussions surrounding such issues have become more mainstream. In 2008, the Constitution of Kosovo was promulgated, containing provisions outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, amongst others.
Recognition of same-sex relationships
In 2014, the President of the Constitutional Court said that Kosovo de jure allows same-sex marriage. Article 144(3) of the Constitution of Kosovo requires the Constitutional Court to approve any amendments to the Constitution so as to ensure they do not infringe upon the civil rights previously guaranteed. Article 14 of the Law on Family (Albanian: Ligji për Familjen; Serbian: Zakon o porodici) defines marriage as a "legally registered community of two persons of different sexes," though Kosovo gay rights activists have argued this contradicts the wording of the Constitution and have called on same-sex couples to challenge the law in court.
On 7 July 2020, Minister of Justice Selim Selimi announced that the new Civil Code would allow for a separate law on same-sex civil partnerships, which the government planned to introduce within a few months. The move was criticised by some LGBT rights groups because it entrenched the legal distinction between opposite- and same-sex couples.
Article 24 of the Constitution of Kosovo bans discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation. Kosovo is one of the few states in Europe with a constitutional ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The wording states:
No one shall be discriminated against on grounds of race, color, gender, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, relation to any community, property, economic and social condition, sexual orientation, birth, disability or other personal status.
The Anti-Discrimination Law of 2004 (Albanian: Ligji Kundër Diskriminimit; Serbian: Zakon protiv diskriminacije) passed by the Kosovo Assembly, bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in a variety of fields, including employment, membership of organizations, education, the provision of goods and services, social security and access to housing. The definition of discrimination in this law explicitly includes direct and indirect discrimination, as well as harassment, victimization and segregation.
In April 2019, the new Criminal Code of Kosovo went into force, with stronger protections for LGBT citizens. The law provides additional penalties for the commission of a hate crime because of the victim's or victims' sexual orienation or gender identity.
Despite these legal protections, LGBT people tend to avoid reporting discrimination or abuse cases to the police. A total of 10 bias-motivated crimes against LGBT people were reported to the authorities in 2019, with a further 13 reported to LGBT organizations only. In February 2019, authorities initiated a case against an official at the Ministry of Justice who had called for LGBT people to be beheaded. Police took him into custody.
In 2017, a Kosovar citizen, Blert Morina, submitted a court case, seeking to change his name and gender on official identification documents. His request was rejected by Kosovo's Civil Registration Agency. His lawyer, Rina Kika, said he had requested a constitutional review of the agency's decision in July 2018. In December 2019, the Basic Court of Pristina ruled in Morina's favour, affirming his right to change both his name and sex marker on his identification documents. Kika said that "for the first time the court has decided to recognize the right to gender identity without offering evidence for surgical intervention or any medical change". The Ministry of Justice and the Civil Registration Agency have stated that the judgment will not be considered precedent, and other transgender people will have to go through a similar court procedure.
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are allowed to serve openly in the military. However, they may face discrimination by peers when serving openly.
An LGBT rights group, the Center for Social Emancipation, describes gay life in Kosovo as being "underground" and mostly secretive. There are no known gay clubs or bars in Kosovo, though one briefly opened in Pristina in 2011.
According to a 2015 survey conducted by the National Democratic Institute, 81% of LGBT Kosovars said they had been subject to psychological abuse, and 29% reported being victim of physical violence.
Events celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia have been organized in Kosovo since 2007. The first pride parade occurred in Pristina in May 2016, with attendance from President Hashim Thaçi and British and American diplomats. The annual Pride Week has been held in Pristina since 2017. In 2018, Mayor Shpend Ahmeti participated. During the event's third edition in October 2019, participants started at the Skanderbeg Square, making their way down Mother Teresa Boulevard to Zahir Pajaziti Square, passing the government and parliament buildings and other landmarks of the city, with the slogan "Whoever your heart beats for" (Për kon t'rreh zemra). The events have been held without incidence, and consist of various artistic exhibitions, parties, conferences, discussions and a parade.
LGBT rights movement in Kosovo
There are currently several local LGBT rights organisations in Kosovo. Among the most notable are the Center for Equality and Liberty (CEL; Albanian: Qendra për Barazi dhe Liri), the Center for Social Group Development (CSGD; Albanian: Qendra për Zhvillimin e Grupeve Shoqërore), and the Center for Social Emancipation (QESh; Albanian: Qendra për Emancipim Shoqëror).
|Same-sex sexual activity legal||(Since 1994)|
|Equal age of consent||(Since 2004)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in employment||(Since 2004)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services||(Since 2004)|
|Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)||(Since 2004)|
|Anti-discrimination laws covering gender identity in all areas||(Since 2015)|
|Recognition of same-sex couples||(Proposed)|
|Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples|
|Joint adoption by same-sex couples|
|Gay, lesbian and bisexual people allowed to serve openly in the military|
|Access to IVF for lesbian couples|
|Right to change legal gender|
|Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples||(Banned regardless of sexual orientation)|
|MSMs allowed to donate blood|
- ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the 2013 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo is currently recognized as an independent state by 98 out of the 193 United Nations member states. In total, 113 UN member states recognized Kosovo at some point, of which 15 later withdrew their recognition.
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