LGBT rights in Kosovo

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Europe-Republic of Kosovo.svg
StatusLegal since 1858 when part of the Ottoman Empire, again in 1994 as part of Yugoslavia[1]
Gender identityTransgender people not permitted to change gender
MilitaryGays, lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and gender identity protections (see below)
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo 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, homosexuality is still viewed by Kosovar society as a taboo topic.[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 several local LGBT organizations 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]


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 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, during the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) period, 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]

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 discussing surrounding such issues have become more mainstream.[13] 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[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 (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.[17]

Discrimination protections[edit]

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. The wording states:[18]

Anti Discrimination Law[edit]

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.[19]

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.[20]

Despite these legal protections, LGBT people tend to avoid reporting discrimination or abuse cases to the police.[21]

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.[22][23]

In 2017, a Kosovar citizen, Blert Morina, submitted a case to the country's Constitutional Court, seeking to change his name and gender on official identification documents. His request has been 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.[24][25]

Military service[edit]

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are allowed to serve openly in the military. However, they may face discrimination by peers when serving openly.

Blood donation[edit]

According to a 2018 guideline for "Blood Donation Week", those who have "intimate relationships with the same sex" cannot donate blood.[26]

Living conditions[edit]

Kosovo Pride Week 2018

An LGBT rights group, the Center for Social Emancipation, describes gay life in Kosovo as being "underground" and mostly secretive.[27] There are no known gay clubs or bars in Kosovo, though one briefly opened in Pristina in 2011.[28]

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.[21]

LGBT rights movement in Kosovo[edit]

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).

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
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No (Banned regardless of sexual orientation)
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ ^ 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 has been recognized as an independent state by 112 out of 193 United Nations member states, while 11 states have recognized Kosovo only to later withdraw their recognition.


  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".
  6. ^ "Qeveria formon trupë këshilluese e koordinuese për komunitetin LGBT".
  7. ^ "Marsh kundër homofobisë".
  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.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  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". Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  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. ^ "Constitution of the Republic of Kosovo" (PDF).
  19. ^ Law 2004/3: The Anti-Discrimination Law Archived 1 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine, UNMIK
  20. ^ Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe 2016: Kosovo
  21. ^ a b Davies, Jack (12 March 2018). "Being gay in Kosovo, Europe's youngest nation". Equal Times.
  22. ^ Rainbow Europe: Kosovo
  23. ^ LGBT rights in Kosovo
  24. ^ "Kosovo turns its eye on Macedonian transgender rights". Pristina Insight. 31 January 2019.
  25. ^ "Transgender Macedonians Hails 'Turning Point' European Court Ruling". Balkan Insight. 31 January 2019.
  26. ^ "Kominitetit LGBT u ndalohet dhruimi i gjakut në Kosovë". Pa Censurë (in Albanian). 23 June 2018.
  27. ^ "Center for Social Emancipation". Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2009.
  28. ^ Lone Gay Bar’s Closure Leaves Kosovo Gays Bereft

External links[edit]