Equality, freedom and justice out of reach for LGBTIQ+ persons in Montenegro

Centre for Civic Education (CCE), on the occassion of 17 May – the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), calls on the institutions in Montenegro, in charge for protecting and enhancing the human rights of LGBTIQ+ persons, to take responsibility and start working seriously on the creation of policies that will ensure full legal protection, access to equal opportunities and reduction in all forms of discrimination of LGBTIQ+ persons.

LGBTIQ+ persons in Montenegro remain on the margins, both socially and institutionally, which hinders their social integration and makes it difficult for them to exercise basic human rights. Homo/bi/transphobia is still prevalent, with radicalization and clericalization of Montenegrin society exacerbating this phenomenon. Even young people in Montenegro are not immune to the negative trend of intolerance towards LGBTIQ+ individuals, as evidence by CCE’s research findings showing a high degree of social distance of young people towards homosexual couples, which directly indicates the presence of homophobia among this group.

On the other hand, in recent years, institutions have shown a worrying reluctance, incompetence and ignorance in even attempting to address this social issue adequately. There is still no Strategy for improving the quality of life of LGBTIQ+ persons, as a key national policy document. Consequently, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights failed to maintain continuity in creating public policies that would represent a systemic response to discrimination against LGBTIQ+ persons in Montenegrin society. The Law on Life Partnership of Persons of the Same Sex came into force in 2021, however, the Government and the Parliament did not harmonize the legislative framework, that is, made changes in all 27 laws and 14 by-law acts, thus preveting LGBTIQ+ people from enjoying the full rights guaranteed by this law. The draft on the Law on legal recognition of gender identity based on self-determination is still not in the parliamentary procedure, although the previous Strategy anticipated its adoption by the end of last year. Hate speech by representatives of certain religious communities regarding this Law is dissaminated through the media, which openly and negatively influences the general public and focuses on creating even greater divisions in society.

Frequent and increasingly present hate speech both online and offline, lenient penal policies, and inadequate and slow processing of reported cases of discrimination and violence create deep mistrust in the legal system of Montenegro among LGBTIQ+ persons.

The theme of this year’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, No One Should Be Forgotten: Equality, Freedom and Justice for All, currently represents only a distant ideal for LGBTIQ+ people in Montenegro.

Miloš Knežević, Development Coordinator