Differences are part of wealth of each society

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) on the occasion of 17 May – the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, reminds that respect of LGBT persons is a question that remains a concern in the Montenegrin context. Despite the achieved progress, through the strengthening of the institutional and legal framework, and organization of two pride parades during the last year, in the lives of LGBT persons not much has changed in terms of their freedom to express their identity without fear of violence and discrimination.

The level of homophobia is still extremely high. This was demonstrated within the last years’ two pride parades, which were accompanied by numerous and still unresolved cases of violence against LGBT persons. Moreover, there are concerning outbursts of hate speech on social networks, internet portals, as well as in the statements of certain officials, which also remain without adequate sanctions.

As long as the authorities do not demonstrate determination to bring to justice those who have committed or inspired violence thus introducing zero tolerance towards all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, it is difficult to talk about the essential respect and protection of the rights of LGBT population in Montenegrin society. Without effective prosecution of violence by the state, primarily the courts and prosecutors’ offices, the struggle for the advancement of the position of LGBT persons remains only declarative commitment of authorities, and the organization of pride parades t just another bitter pill to swallow for the sake of European integration process, instead of being an expression of genuine respect for the right to difference.

A society that is affected by homophobia cannot be developed in a way that will involve all its members. In this context, a special responsibility lies on the formal education system, which needs to strengthen its capacities, in order to adequately face layers of prejudices and stereotypes that block rational relationship to reality, and therefore the progress of a society. Within the educational programmes, special attention must be paid to a continuous work on the affirmation of the idea of human rights and anti – discriminatory values.

The media also play an important role in education of citizens. Unacceptable is the tolerance that media often show for hate speech when reporting on LGBT issues. This applies particularly to inadequate regulation of the comments section on web portals that offend LGBT persons, or call for violence against LGBT people, as well as covering hate speech of religious leaders when it comes to LGBT persons without a clear condemnation of that speech.

Homophobia harms everyone: it restricts the development of the individual, personal and friendly relations, the integration of all in a society, destroys families and its internal harmonious relationships, whereas the public has limited information and the society does not develop itself as a democratic, open and free.

CCE invites and encourages citizens, institutions, political and non-governmental organizations to constantly work on the construction of a new form of democratic thinking, acting and behaving in Montenegro, without discrimination and intolerance, because only such a system can allow everyone to have a dignified life of each individual, regardless of their individual characteristics.

Petar Đukanović, Programme Coordinator