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Right after the first-ever pride march in Bosnia a rainbow appeared

September 23, 2019
topic:LGBT Rights
tags:#Pride Parade, #Bosnia and Herzegovina, #LGBTIQ, #homosexuality
located:Bosnia and Herzegovina
by:Katarina Panić
The Bosnian capital Sarajevo hosted the first Pride parade amidst heavy security. Although there were five hundred people expected, some three thousand gathered to struggle for human rights in the country.

Meanwhile, group of some hundred conservative activists marched against the pride parade in support of “traditional family values”. They also prayed God to send the rain and obstruct the Pride parade. Nevertheless, right after the march was over, a rainbow appeared and a picture of it went viral.

“It’s amazing and good that the Pride Parade in Bosnia was such a success. We may have been late to the party, but in other places in the Balkans violence did occur in the first Pride parades & the following ones too,” activist Arnesa Buljušmić-Kustura tweeted, alluding to the fact Bosnia and Herzegovina is the last country in the former Yugoslav region to hold a public Pride event.

More than 1,000 police officers secured the event using sniffer dogs and metal barriers. Anti-sniper units were placed on the rooftops along the main route in the city centre. An additional 150 security guards were also deployed.

International support against anti-LGBT sentiments 

Despite high and loud anti-LGBT sentiments in Bosnia, perpetuated both by religious communities and the majority of politicians, and in spite of previous attacks reported on recently by FairPlanet, calls for the cancellation of the march, and two counter-protests which took place close to the marchers, police recorded no violence nor a single incident, stating that, “from a security point of view, it was one of the most demanding high-risk public gatherings.”

Cheerful participants were marching to the rhythm of drums, blowing whistles, singing, and waving rainbow flags on a sunny day, while many people waved back from balconies and windows. They were carrying banners with the pride’s slogan “Ima izać!” which roughly translates as “Coming out.”

The march has been supported by EU diplomats and activists from the region and beyond. U.K. ambassador to Bosnia Matthew Field tweeted, “Great to run into GB MEP Julie Ward at the PRIDE in Sarajevo. Together we StandUp4HumanRights.” U.S. ambassador to Bosnia Eric Nelson said on Wednesday that he and his partner would take part in the parade in support of all LGBT people and their families. Posters featuring his face and anti-gay slurs were put up on walls near the U.S. Embassy on Friday. Two days later, however, Nelson tweeted a photo of himself at the parade with a message saying he was “incredibly proud” to have taken part in it.

The highest-ranking Bosnian national with diplomatic credentials, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe Commissioner of Human Rights tweeted, “This is an important step in the protection of the fundamental rights of all citizens in Bosnia . . . including of LGBTI persons, who have the right to live their lives free from discrimination, abuse and threats, and enjoy full social inclusion.”

Sarajevo cantonal Prime Minister Edin Forto supported and joined the event, whereas the cantonal assembly president Elmedin Konakovic wrote on his Facebook profile that his party will never vote for same-sex marriage, “The citizens of this country must declare these major topics in a referendum. This must not be dictated by the EU.” The EU has praised the aspiring member-state for holding its first pride parade, although top Bosnian politicians failed to attend the march.

The first Pride parade is just the beginning

Homosexuality is legal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Being gay remained a crime in some of its parts up until 2003. Branko Culibrk, one of the Pride march organizers addressed to participants that, “From now on, we demand a society where we will jointly confront violence, hatred, isolation and homophobia. We demand compliance with existing laws and the adoption of new laws that will allow the recognition of same-sex communities and regulate access to health and legal change of personal documents for trans persons and provide space for more equal position of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, trans, interpolar and quirks in our society.”

The participants gathered in front of the Eternal Flame, a well-known memorial dedicated to victims of World War II, marched Sarajevo’s main street, and ended in front of the state-level parliament. About a mile away, dozens of followers of a radical group “Iskorak” (Step Forward) held a rally against the parade, claiming it is a “sin” and “humiliation” for Sarajevo.

“They want to bring this into our streets, our squares, among our children. We want to fight against this, we are fighting against their LGBT way of life, which is being introduced into our schools, our homes, our universities,“ Sanin Musa, Islamic theologian and chairman of Iskorak said.

Another counter-protest was organized on Saturday, the day before the march, by the “Svjetlo” (Light) Association. Its members walked from the Eternal Flame to the state parliament, using the same route as the Pride march. Under the slogan “Traditional Family Day”, the organizers said their aim was to underline “the naturalness of the traditional family in terms of science and religion.”

Hate speech flooded social media before, during, and after the first Pride parade, with some people voicing their opposition to LGBT human rights, claiming that it goes against the “fundamental tradition of a relationship between a man and a woman.”

Article written by:
Katarina Panić
Katarina Panić
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Embed from Getty Images
LGBT activists raise their fists and hold rainbow flags as they march through Sarajevo city centre, on September 8, 2019, during Bosnia-Herzegovina's first-ever Gay Pride parade. - More than 2000 people of various sexual orientation, participated in Pride 2019 in Sarajevo, showing their support for the LGBT population. The march is an attempt to carve out a safe space for the LGBT community in Sarajevo, a city that has no openly gay-friendly bars, clubs or cafes.
Embed from Getty Images
Although there were five hundred people expected, some three thousand gathered to struggle for human rights.
Embed from Getty Images
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