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Progress is full of contradiction

So many aspects of our global world and local societies are screaming for change and progress. Progress from war, from famine, from discrimination. Progress from corruption, power-thirsty leadership and deeply ingrained racism.

However, one thing we rarely take into consideration when fighting for progress is the retaliation, contradiction and often times the steps backwards that come hand in hand with our steps forward.

This week has seen sweeping progress around the world, in aspects across aid and support in war-ravaged Afghanistan, to a new bill passed in an Eastern European country known for its conservatism, and a train station removing its old and derogatory name in Germany. But as is the case, these victories for progress have come with their own challenges.

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The good

Montenegro becomes first country in Balkans to legalise same-sex civil partnerships

In a historic move for the Balkan nations, a new bill passed on Wednesday, July 22, which gives same-sex couples equal legal rights as heterosexual ones except for child adoption. A sweeping forty-two MPs voted in favour of the law in the capital Podgorica, while only five were against it.

The LGBT Forum Progres group said the bill has "unspeakably tremendous importance for all LGBT persons in Montenegro."

However, for a nation that has consistently been oppressing LGBTQ persons and has deeply rooted prejudice toward anything other than heterosexuality and hetronormativity, the passing of the bill has come alongside a wave of hate and anger from its society. LGBTQ individuals have reported they are afraid to leave their homes as a wave of hate crimes surges.

For Montenegro, which has been accused of passing this bill in order to inch closer to the European Union, this step of progress will be followed by the sour reality of those who oppose progressive believes. It is now time for the government as well as local organisations to make sure LGBTQ persons feel safe and that progressive discourse continues straight on.

The bad

Afghanistan is making its society charity dependant

Progress in the war-ravaged country is seeing one step forward and two steps backwards. A recent prominent example of this is the government's latest announcement of a multi-million dollar food aid project that will see food given out to local communities. Indeed we support charity and food aid, but this new programme has come off the back of a recently launched rejuvenation programme that promises to see new jobs created across rebuilding schools, agriculture, and infrastructure across the country.

As our Afghanistan correspondent Shadi Khan Said writes, there is no shame in food aid programmes, but "the argument here is that the state machinery and its mighty international partners should have by now chalked and initiated scores of new jobs and population engaging projects of micro and even mega level that would have helped those in need earn their livelihood with pride while contributing to the building of the nation."


Aid and empower communities in Afghanistan

by Yair Oded

Afghanaid promotes sustainable rural and community development in Afghanistan, focusing on empowerment of women and vulnerable populations.
Our coverage

Afghanistan: Time to relinquish the dependency syndrome

by Shadi Khan Saif

Promoting charity in otherwise feasible environments of some sort for dignified earning of livelihood would only deepen dependency syndrome in any society.
Rainbow flags for LGBTQ rights © Daniel James/Unsplash

Montenegro: LGBT celebrated and then reported hundreds of hate speech cases

by Katarina Panić

Montenegro is first of former Yugoslav republics outside the EU that has legalised same-sex unions, but still has a homophobic society.

The street that just loves controversy

by Gurmeet Singh

Mohrenstrasse. A street name like any other, it might seem. However, this particular name has been the centre of a controversy for several years now.
Country focus

Montenegro is a Southern European country with under 1 million citizens, 620,029 to be exact, according to a 2011 census. It is a country in the Western Balkans and part of former Yugoslavia, which has only been a sovereign country since a 2006 referendum that saw 55 per cent of its citizens vote for independence from its former union with Serbia.

Montenegro is a country of dual languages, Serbian and Montenegrin, as well as dual religious believes: Islam and Christianity. With its contentious past of communism as well as its split from Serbia, the country is still battling with its conservative past while wanting to move forward and become part of the EU. In that light, despite its toxic environment for LGBTQ persons, it has just passed a progressive bill that will see same-sex civil companionships legal for the first time in its history.