It’s ok to be different!

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the ocassion of 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, points out that the everyday life of LGBT persons is still marked with threats, hate speech, discrimination and violence in spite the improvements made for the purpose of protection and respect of rights of LGBT persons in Montenegro. Apart from the advanced legislation and institutions, further efforts are needed in order to overcome prejudices and exceptionally negative attitudes towards sexual minorities and their right to enjoy freedom of expression of their identity.

Amendmends to Criminal Code, whereby the hate crimes was introduced as a criminal offense, improved Law on prohibition of discrimination, adopted Strategy on the improvement of quality of life of LGBT persons and accompanying action plans, as well as many other mechanisms and initiatives are important messages from Montenegrin institutions that every form of discrimination, including the discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is something that must not be tolerated. However, instead of declarative devotion, it is important to start implementing mechanisms of protection of rights, through a timely, decisive and effective reaction of police, prosecution and courts in cases of violence against LGBT persons.

Furthermore, lack of quality formal education on the issues of sexuality and human rights is directly linked to creation, transfer and preservation of prejudices and stereotypes regarding the LGBT population that incite discrimination and violence. Montenegrin educational system still has not shown readiness to recognise the danger of homophobia and to be take the main role in opposing this restraining assumption of development of Montengrin society. Recent examples of homophobia at the Faculty of philosophy represent colourful reminder of harmfull consequences of such educational system.

Scientific facts on homosexuality unambiguously prove that it is only one variety of human sexuality, natural and unharmful occurrence, and that LGBT persons are equally worthy human beings. Unfortunately, that is not presented in that way when it comes to curriculum and textbooks in Montenegrin schools. Young people, who do not have the opportunity to learn scientific facts on sexuality and gender identity during their education, mostly come out unprepared to comprehend and respect diversity, and ignoring those facts during the process of education can be dangerous on several levels for the entire society.

On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, CCE urges educational institutions to adequately incorporate LGBT topics in curriculum and textbooks on all levels, and through the education and sensibilisation of teaching staff help dreation of tolerance climate and constructive communication based on respect of differences. Discrimination of LGBT persons starts in the earliest stages of education, through peer violence in school and continues throughout the life. That is why the issue of homophobia should be tackled in the earliest stage of education and onwards through all following stages, in order to make the education more sustainable and empowering for young people ready not just to accept differences, but alsto to fight for rights of those who are marginalised.

Međunarodni dan borbe protiv homofobije i transfobije u svijetu se obilježava od 1990. kada je Svjetska zdravstvena organizacija uklonila homoseksualnost sa liste bolesti.

Petar Đukanović, Programme coordinator