Hatred cannot be repainted, it requires a systematic response from institutions

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) condemns act of vandalism regarding the homophobic graffitis written on walls of Faculty of Philosophy in Nikšić, and thus urges the institutions to investigate all circumstances regarding this case and sanction hatred speech against the LGBT population in line with the law.

Graffitis which appeared on walls of Faculty represent criminal offense from Article 443 of Criminal Code of Montenegro, paragraph 3: “racial and other discrimination”, which states “…whoever spreads ideas of superiority of one race over another or incites hatred or intolerance based on race, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or other personal property or incites racial or other discrimination, shall be punished with sentence of imprisonment in duration of three months to three years. Prohibition of discrimination is a constitutional category, and hate speech based on sexual orientation is prohibited by the Law on prohibition of discrimination. Hence, competent institutions need to utilise numerous legal possibilities in order to sanction vandals who incited hatred against persons of different sexual orientation. Also, we expect that competent institutions dealing with security to create conditions, in dialogue with LGBT organisations, to enable free and peaceful gathering of LGBT population and of all those people who are prepared to fight for human rights of LGBT persons.

Developments that took place on Faculty of Philosophy, homophobic graffitis and hatred are the result of undeveloped culture of human rights which severely deteriorates progress of Montenegrin society, and this is strenghtened by the existing education system which limits free and criticial opinion. Therefore, counter reaction towards the hatred manifested on walls of Faculty of Philosophy requires much more than few buckets of paint that would repaint offensive messages. First of all, it is necessary to open educational institutions and authorities regarding the matters which still do not have broad social consensus, and the issues of including human rights of LGBT persons and scientific facts on homosexuality are among those that should be an integral part of curriculum and textbooks in order to contribute to understaing and developing spirit of tolerance.

CCE urges educational institutions not to allow for their work to be guided by fear of majority of discriminatory public views, but to barvely open substantiated and liberal discussion on all issues that are on the social and political agenda of Montenegro. Academic community should lead in the promotion of human rights and democratic standards, not to resist the scientific approach and dialogue on any issue, no matter how much it divides the society.

Petar Đukanović, programme coordinator