It’s okay to be different!

On the occasion of International Day Against Gomophobia, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) indicated on extremely difficult position of people of different sexual orientation in Montenegrin society.

In spite of the solid legislative and institutional framework concerning fight against homophobia, dedication of institutions remains declarative to the great extent. Certain progress was evident in the work of judicial institutions, police and prosecution in the prosecution and sanctioning of violence and discrimination against LGBT persons,
while on the other hand key documents are left as “dead letters”. Strategy on the improvement of quality of life of LGBT persons is a document praised as an accomplishment which ranked Montenegro the first in the Balkan region in terms of the fight against homophobia. However, in practice, structures that were formed as a support in its implementation are not functional.

Latest public opinion poll on discrimination and homophobia, which CCE conducted in February 2016, indicates that every other citizen of Montenegro agrees with the statement that people of different sexual orientation are so harmful that we are ought to invest efforts and fight this occurrence with every mean possible, and the majority sees homosexuality as an illness. More than a half of citizens opposes the right of the LGBT to express their sexual identity freely and publically in the same manner as heterosexuals do. Every indicator, unfortunately, confirmed that homophobia is deeply rooted in Montenegrin society, which is in addition extremely authoritarian and traditionalist.

Homophobia is still treated superficially, i.e. its consequences are treated sporadically while the causes remain untouched through the system of education, which should be utilised the most as a remedy for this society’s ailment. As long as young people don’t learn how to accept other, different people, homophobia will only isolate LGBT people and increase their fear of violence, and render their lives within the frameworks of only socially acceptable model – life within four walls. More than a half of citizens opposes the Pride Parade in their town, believing that it only serves to parade one’s sexuality, while only a third understands that it is a matter of legitimate civic protest against the violation of human rights and discrimination.

Within the four walls which are farming the lives of majority of LGBT people the problems are further encumbered by their families. According to the latest research, 75% of them think that LGBT are least desirable members of family. Such opinion affects young LGBT people the most, who suffer the condemnation from the day they realise they are different, which further compels them to conceal their true identity. Self-annulation transfers from sexual to every other identity because the insecurity in one’s true essence undermines the basis for full development of personality. Young people spend most of his/her years of self-development with families and school, which is also a homophobic environment. Such numerous possibilities for development, not just of LGBT people, but of society as a whole, remain forever trapped and unused, locked within four walls, in other words diminished to an unfulfilled life.

Media still report on LGBT rights in a sensationalist manner, instead of emphasising most important aspects of this subject and exploring the same. Headlines often consist of homophobic rhymes which indulge the mass prejudice.

Majority of citizens would not vote for the political party which would advocate the LGBT rights, or a politician who has declared as a person of different sexual orientation. When it comes to homophobia, the majority of citizens finds the excuse in political subjects which policy comes down to a game won by the person who scores the most of the cheap political points, and who do not fight for public interest and general wellbeing.

Homophobia represents a threat for entire society, because every other phobia and fear is easily attached to it, primarily fear of what you are, to think and act freely, all of which bares the consequences and renders us all as victims of homophobia and ignorant opinions alike.

Hence, it is important not be silent on homophobia, to confront it both as individuals and as institutions, primarily the education system, because only such attitude can contribute in the creation of environment where everybody can enjoy the same rights and freedoms regardless of their personal properties, which are, and always will be, different.

Petar Đukanović, programme coordinator