Students council and Faculty of Philosophy should enable discussion on LGBT rights

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses utmost concern regarding the prohibition of organization of panel discussion on rights of LGBT persons at the Faculty of Philosophy in Nikšić, due to the increased level of homophobia in academic community, and the inexistence of initiative of this community to provide support to promotion and protection of human rights.

During the previous week, student organisation Hyperion and LGBT Forum Progress, tried to organise panel discussion on rights of LGBT persons, and they were prevented in that by the Students council and management of Faculty, with an explanation that such occurrence would harm the reputation of the institution! In that manner, instead of contributing to understanding and creating the culture of human rights, Faculty of Philosophy presented itself as an institution whose students and management encourage exclusiveness and homophobia.

Students council of Faculty of Philosophy does not react to numerous discovered abuses and violations of law in the financial management of Faculty of Philosophy, with which the public was recently familiarised, and which directly endangers the reputation of institution, quality of studying and status of students. Therefore, by tacitly approving the petition created by students, based on which the academic discussion on human rights was prevented, Students council rendered itself as hypocritical regarding their defence of “reputation of institution”. The role of Students council should be to advocate a better position of all students, both through active relationship towards the issues that directly influence functioning of faculty unit and conditions of studying, and through influencing the quality and comprehensiveness of teaching which is founded on scientific achievements and which includes the development of critical thought.

Education plays a key role in the fight against any form of exclusiveness, violation of human rights, discrimination and facing prejudices that limit the development from individual to collective. Homophobia expressed at Faculty of Philosophy is just another painful reminder of the current state of affairs in educational system.

University education in Montenegro has been facing a crisis for a long time and mostly focuses on mere production of diplomas, without an established system of quality and control over the manner of management of educational institutions. Additionally, university education does not foster critical opinion and development of citizenship, which, in addition to the adoption of modern scientific facts, presents a precondition for civil participation in contemporary democratic society.

Like in many other areas in Montenegro, solid legislative solutions projected to prevent homophobia are lacking adequate supporting practices. Changes in the awareness of public occur slowly and due to neglecting of topics related to LGBT population in the area of education. Educational system of Montenegro is particularly hetero-normative and not in line with European Convention on Human Rights. Therefore, it is important to incorporate objective knowledge on homosexuality in curriculum, especially in curriculum of faculties where future teachers are being educated, then open a university for broadest discussion on the occurrence of homosexuality and rights of LGBT persons.Researches show that getting familiar with subject and particular persons, members of LGBT community, is in positive correlation with the reduction of homophobic attitudes.

CCE urges the Students council and management of Faculty of Philosophy to enable academic discussion on LGBT rights, because dialogue is the only sustainable way of finding the objective truth on things and occurrences that surround us, as well as of understanding between people on what are the postulates of philosophy, sociology and other fundamental sciences that are being studied at this faculty.

Petar Đukanović, programme coordinator