Being LGBTI in BiH – Equal Rights for All

May 17, 2017

A Thematic Session held to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

Human rights must be respected in Bosnia and Herzegovina without exception and without discrimination and hence every citizen, regardless of the population he/she belongs to, must enjoy equal rights. This is one of the conclusions of the joint thematic session entitled “Being LGBTI in BiH -  Recommendations for Institutional Actions“, held in the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH  to mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on 17 May, 2017 at the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Speaking to the press, the Chairman of the Gender Equality Committee of the House of Representatives of BiH, Mirsad Isakovic, said that the BiH and lower levels of government are obliged to engage in developing a set of actions in accordance with the ratified international instruments and standards, which will improve respect for, and protection of, human rights of the LGBTI population.

In an address delivered on behalf of the Joint Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, parliamentarian Maja Gasal-Vrazalica reiterated that LGBTI rights were discussed for the first time precisely at the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH, of all BiH institutions, back in 2015, when it was concluded that it was necessary to develop a special report on LGBTI rights in BiH and to change the Anti-Discrimination Law in order to protect the rights of LGBTI persons in BiH.

According to parliamentarian Maja Gasal-Vrazalica, both conclusions were implemented: the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsmen in BiH developed and presented by the end of last year a Special Report on LGBTI Rights in BiH, and BiH finally received an improved legal framework for the protection against discrimination and became the first state in South-Eastern Europe to protect intersex persons against discrimination in all spheres of life through the Anti-Discrimination Law.

During the thematic session, Mirela Grünther-Djecevic, UNDP BiH's project leader, presented the report “Being LGBTI in Eastern Europe: Reducing Inequalities and  Exclusion and Combating Homophobia and  Transphobia – Report for BiH“, developed within the UNDP project with the support of USAID in BiH.

Being LGBTI in BiH – Equal Rights for All After the discussion, it was concluded that the Joint Human Rights Committee and the Gender Equality Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH should decide to hold a public hearing on the fulfillment of the recommendations from the Special Report on LGBTI Rights, developed by the Institution of Human Rights Ombudsmen of BiH, and those from the UNDP's report.

This year's celebration of IDAHOT at the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a historic event and a landmark for two reasons: first, the conclusion of the session that the public hearing on the state of LGBTI rights would take place at the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH; and second, it was for the first time that a transgender person from Bosnia and Herzegovina addressed the Parliament.

The sitting of the parliament scheduled to mark IDAHOT was not just a symbolic gesture but an important and encouraging step forward towards resolving the issue of the protection of LGBTI rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The sitting included keynote speeches from Mirsad Isakovic, chairman, the Gender Equality Committee of the House of Representatives of BiH; Samra Filipovic-Hadziabdic, director, the BiH Gender Equality Agency of the BIH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees; Jasminka Dzumhur, Human Rights Ombudsmen of BiH; Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina; Shanley Pinchotti, director, USAID/BiH's Democracy and Governance Office; and Emina Bosnjak, executive director, the Sarajevo Open Center.

The session was organized by the Joint Human Rights Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (PA BiH) and the Gender Equality Committee of the BiH House of Representatives, in cooperation with the BiH Gender Equality Agency, the BIH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, the Sarajevo Open Center, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in BiH and the Mission of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in BiH.