Sarajevo will host Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first gay pride parade on September 8, according to the country’s LGBTQ activists.
A group of 15 committee leaders of the initiative Bosnian-Herzegovinian (BiH) Pride March told members of the press the planned march will be a protest against inequality and the lack of equal access to public spaces for the LGBTI community.
LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer.
“BiH finally gets its Pride March, a protest against inequality and violation of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex, and queer persons," said Branko Ćulibrk, an activist and member of the organising committee of the first BiH Pride March.
"It is a fight against violence and a demand for access to public space equal to that of all other citizens who can organise protests."
BiH is using the reference “Door, please!” as a slogan for the pride march.
The group says this expression is often heard in public transportation across Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also refers to opening the door of the proverbial closet that LGBTQ people are said to come out of.
Activist Lejla Huremović said at the press conference that BiH is not only fighting for LGBTQ freedoms but for the freedoms of all persons and groups subjected to violence and who are excluded from society.
Huremović emphasized that LGBTQ persons in Bosnia are exposed to discrimination and violence on a daily basis, in their families, schools, public institutions and on the street.
Being gay in Bosnia and Herzegovina remained a crime until 1998 and no public pride events have taken place before now due to security concerns.
According to the NGO Amnesty International, social exclusion and discrimination among the LGBTQ community remains widespread in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The NGO says Bosnian police continue to fail in investigating acts of violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Although being gay is no longer a crime, households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex couples.
According to a 2015 poll by the Sarajevo Open Center (SOC), 51% of LGBTI people experienced some variety of discrimination.