On the occasion of 17May – the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) calls on the competent institutions to enable exercising rights of the LGBTIQ persons prescribed by Law on Life Partnership of Persons of the Same-Sex and to put the LGBTIQ community amongst groups that are the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, hence, to improve the position of this community and remediate harmful consequences of the COVID-19.
In 2020, Montenegrin society made a step forward in human rights towards the realization of the fully-fledged dignified life of LGBTIQ persons by adopting the Law on Life Partnership of Persons of the Same-Sex. Much hope, particularly for LGBTIQ persons, their families, but also activists for human rights and the international community, is put into this law and its application. However, COVID-19 pandemic, along with a narrative of certain parts of the governing structure – made the LGBTIQ community fear that not only would this Law not come to life, but that some basic rights would also be jeopardized again.
Last year’s Montenegro Pride had a strong message and campaign which continued and framed the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Through membership in the Coalition “Together for LGBT Rights” but also through the independent participation of part of the team, the CCE gave a contribution to this campaign to strengthen symbols of resistance to discrimination, violence, prejudice, stereotypes, hate speech, unacceptance of the LGBTIQ persons.
However, remarkable campaigns, noble gestures and declarative statements will not improve the position of one of the most discriminated groups in Montenegro. The CCE assesses that there is a reason for serious concern because of combustible rhetoric and hate speech toward women and LGBTIQ persons in the first line, which is addressed by individuals, but also groups which are part of coalitions that won parliamentary elections. It is concerning that the Ministry of Justice, Human and Minority Rights in its new systematization does not recognize the LGBTIQ population as the one on which it must be focused.
The CCE calls on the competent institutions to take actions that will protect the LGBTIQ persons in Montenegro from dangerous rhetoric which already inspires part of the radically oriented public in the direction of disrespect, insult and discrimination of LGBTIQ persons. This requires a more proactive approach of the parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and Freedoms in addressing the rights of LGBTIQ persons and their strong and content advocacy in the Parliament. We also call on the Ministry of Interior, i.e. Police Department, to promptly react to all cases of violence over LGBTIQ persons, and the Prosecutor’s Office to process the same cases adequately and urgently. We also call on all the competent institutions to make a joint plan for the recovery of the LGBTIQ community from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic due to which this population is additionally exposed to discrimination and violence, which limits its ability to meet basic living needs.
The CCE considers that more than ever we have to be in solidarity and support to diversities, not only because they enrich us as a society, but because everyone should have equal chances in exercising rights and freedoms.
The International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is celebrated on 17May to raise awareness on the LGBTI rights and represents a symbolic day of the LGBTIQ persons, because the date of 17 May was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.
Željka Ćetković, Programme coordinator