Equal rights for all

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), regarding the 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia, wishes to express concern due to existing state of affairs of rights and freedoms of LGBT community in Montenegro, who are still living under daily threats, hate speech, discrimination and violence.

The research results show continued high levels of homophobia of Montenegrin citizens, which is reflected in a very negative attitude towards the need to protect and improve the rights of LGBT people, while amongst most of them homosexuality is still perceived as a disease. Homophobia is a dangerous social phenomenon, not only directed against the LGBT community, but represents a problem of the whole society. As long as any citizen, for any of the personal characteristics, feels threatened and unsafe, then none is fully free. Therefore, insisting on the equal rights and the fight against discrimination on any grounds, including on grounds of sexual orientation, does not threaten our freedom, but supplement it and make our society more prosperous and more open.

There are many obstacles on the path to full protection and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for LGBT people, because most prejudices are deeply rooted in personal, political, cultural and religious beliefs.The right to disagree with the way someone else lives is as indefeasible as the right of others to search for their own happiness. We can disagree with someone’s lifestyle, but in a democratic society, all citizens should be equal in access to human rights, and free to live without fear of hatred and violence only because of the fact that they belong to different sexual orientations.

CCE welcomes the efforts that have been made in the field of improving the legal and institutional protection of rights, such as the recent adoption of the strategy to improve the quality of life for LGBT people in Montenegro. Also, Montenegro committed itself to respect a number of international documents aimed at improving the protection of LGBT rights, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Employees in state institutions – education, police, health, social security and all other places where decisions on the rights of the citizens are being made, are required to understand the problems and protect the rights of citizens who have been targeted by homophobia and intolerance in general. Accordingly, it should be even stronger continued with development and support of programs aimed at sensitizing citizens, and those who implement the laws, who are often inclined to approach the promotion and protection of the rights of LGBT people weighted with prejudice. The state would also need to continue its efforts to facilitate the establishment of a sustainable system of support for those who are subject to violence and discrimination because of their diversity, while the legislative should urgently consider adopting amendments to the Criminal Code which would provide for more severe punishment for a hate crime, as well as the propaganda of hatred against the LGBT.

We hope that we will soon be celebrating the day when all citizens of Montenegro, including members of the LGBT community, will be able to enjoy their rights fully and live safely, freely and protected from discrimination and physical, emotional or verbal harassment.

Petar Đukanović, Coordinator of Human Rights Programme