LGBT rights in Kosovo

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LGBT rights in Kosovo
Europe-Republic of Kosovo.svg
Same-sex sexual intercourse legal statusLegal since 1858 when part of the Ottoman Empire, again in 1994 as part of Yugoslavia[1]
Gender identity/expressionTransgender people not permitted to change gender
Military serviceGays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of
relationships
No recognition of same-sex couples
AdoptionAny single person allowed to adopt[2][3]

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, these anti-discrimination laws remain largely unenforced.[4]

The Government of Kosovo is supportive of the country's LGBT community.[5] In late 2013, the Parliament Assembly passed a bill to create a coordinating group for the LGBT community.[6] On 17 May 2014, well-known politicians, including British Ambassador to Kosovo Ian Cliff and local LGBT organizations QESh and CEL, took to the streets of Pristina to march against homophobia.[7][8] The event was welcomed by the European Union office in Kosovo,[9] as well as by the government itself. A large LGBT flag covered the front side of the government building that night.[10] 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.[11][12]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Ottoman Empire[edit]

In 1858 the Ottoman Empire, then in control of Kosovo, legalized same-sex intercourse.[13]

Yugoslavia[edit]

The Yugoslav Criminal Code of 1929 banned "lewdness against the order of nature" (anal intercourse) between human beings. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia also restricted the offense to same-sex anal intercourse with a maximum sentence reduced from 1 to 2 years imprisonment in 1959.[14]

In 1994, male same-sex sexual intercourse became legal in the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija when it was a part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[15]

UNMIK period[edit]

In 2004 the legal age of consent was established as 14 regardless of the individual's gender or sexual orientation,[1] and all sexual offenses were made gender neutral.[13]

Independent era[edit]

When Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, same-sex sexual intercourse was legalized and remains legal at present.[13]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

The LGBT flag on the government building in Pristina on 17 May 2014

In 2014, the President of the Constitutional Court said that Kosovo de jure allows same-sex marriage.[16] 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 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 (see above) and have called on same-sex couples to challenge the law in court.[17]

Discrimination protections[edit]

Kosovo Pride Week 2018

Article 24 of the Constitution of Kosovo bans discrimination on a number of grounds, including sexual orientation.[4] Kosovo is thus one of the few states in Europe with a constitutional ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Despite the anti-discrimination law, the majority of the LGBT community lives a secretive life and few statistics are available about anti-LGBT discrimination in Kosovo.[citation needed]


Anti Discrimination Law[edit]

The Anti-Discrimination Law of 2004, 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.[18]

On 26 May 2015, the Parliament Assembly approved amendments adding gender identity to Kosovo's anti-discrimination law. The amendments took effect in July 2015.[19]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

Transgender people are not allowed to legally change their gender in Kosovo, even if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery.[20][21]

Military service[edit]

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are allowed to serve openly in the military. However, perhaps due to discrimination, there are no openly LGBT members of the military.

Blood donation[edit]

Blood, sperm and organ donation by gay and bisexual men became legal in December 2002. Since March 2006, Kosovo no longer classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder.[citation needed]

Living conditions[edit]

A Kosovo LGBT rights group, the Center for Social Emancipation, describes gay life in Kosovo as being "underground" [22] Gay clubs do not exist in Kosovo and LGBT life remains underground.[23]

LGBT rights movement in Kosovo[edit]

There are currently three local LGBT rights organisations in Kosovo; the Center for Equality and Liberty, the Center for Social Group Development and the Center for Social Emancipation.

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1994)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2004)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2004)
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Same-sex marriages No
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
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Right to change legal gender No
Homosexuality declassified as an illness Yes (Since 2006)
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Banned regardless of sexual orientation)
MSMs allowed to donate blood Yes (Since 2002)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

a.   ^ 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 Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.
  1. ^ a b State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, authored by Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, May 2014
  2. ^ "Adoption Laws in Kosovo: Unmarried persons". State portal of the Republic of Kosovo. Constitution of Kosovo.
  3. ^ "Adoption in Kosovo (Report) - Page 6". OSCE Mission in Kosovo.
  4. ^ a b Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo, Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Archived 26 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ "Qeveria merr në mbrojtje komunitetin LGBT". Albinfo.ch.
  6. ^ "Qeveria formon trupë këshilluese e koordinuese për komunitetin LGBT".
  7. ^ "Marsh kundër homofobisë". Telegrafi.com.
  8. ^ "Komuniteti LGBT është i dukshëm dhe pjesë e shoqërisë kosovare". Zëri.
  9. ^ "Press release: European Union in Kosovo: March against homophobia". European Union Office in Kosovo. Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Flamuri i LGBT'së në ndërtesën e Qeverisë së Kosovës". Gazeta Express.
  11. ^ "Thaci takes part in first gay parade in Pristina". B92. 17 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Kosovo holds first-ever gay pride march". Rappler. 17 May 2016.
  13. ^ a b c "KOSOVO | LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey". www.lgbti-era.org. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
  14. ^ CROATIA: NEW PENAL CODE Archived 14 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us
  16. ^ "Same-Sex Marriage Legal in Kosovo?". Human Rights Campaign. 12 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Kosovo Rights Activists Seek Clarity on Gay Marriage". Balkan Insight. 4 July 2017.
  18. ^ Law 2004/3: The Anti-Discrimination Law Archived 1 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine., UNMIK
  19. ^ Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe 2016: Kosovo
  20. ^ Rainbow Europe: Kosovo
  21. ^ LGBT rights in Kosovo
  22. ^ "Center for Social Emancipation". Qesh.org. Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  23. ^ Lone Gay Bar’s Closure Leaves Kosovo Gays Bereft

External links[edit]