Anti-Gay Crimes Rarely Reported and Mostly Never Prosecuted, Report Says

According to a recent report, the vast majority of Bosnians see homosexuality as a disease and support criminal prosecution of gays and lesbians. The vast majority of families would not accept a gay family member and would reject them.

Public opinion polls have shown that gays are the least accepted minority in Bosnia, in addition to the Romani community. According to a recently published UNDP report, attacks on gays and gay-related events take place on a regular basis, and although punishable under the criminal laws, most reported cases are never prosecuted, which indicates that Bosnian prosecutors lack sufficient ability to recognize the problem.

The criminalization of hate crimes under the criminal codes of Republika Srpska and the Federation entities, the Brčko District, and the adoption of amendments to the national law banning discrimination have created a strong legal basis for combating violence and discrimination against the gay community. However, an extremely low number of reported cases of human rights violations of LGBTI people suggests that under-reporting is widespread.

Vast majority of gays are silent about their private life at workplace

According to the report, Bosnian media have undergone significant transition in reporting on the issues of  LGBTI people. It is encouraging that open inflammatory reporting has been stopped in all major print, electronic and online media. However, news about LGBTI people in Bosnia remain rare compared with stories on LGBTI people from abroad. Hate speech against gays remains widespread in Bosnian media. It is often perpetrated by senior government officials – both men and women – and by other influential figures, such as religious leaders. Following warnings over many years from civil society activists, the European Union recognized this as a problem and the European Commission’s Progress Report called on Bosnian authorities to criminalize hate speech against LGBTI people.

Once ignored, issues related to the gay community are now being actively discussed in institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights, such as the Bosnian Human Rights Ombudsman, the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees and the gender equality institutional mechanisms on the national and entity levels. However, there are very few actors or institutions with responsibility for the rights of LGBTI people in the governments at lower levels, such as the Federation’s cantons.

Young gay people are often targets of peer violence

Same-sex partnerships remain unrecognized in Bosnia. Rights and obligations based on the shared life and stable emotional unions of same sex couples are not accessible to them. Due to stigma and discrimination, the vast majority of gays are silent about their private life at workplace. Bosnian labor laws don’t explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTI people.

In schools, the needs and problems of LGBTI people are not adequately recognized and there is no affirmative education about sexual and gender diversity at any level in the educational system. On contrary, being gay is often presented as a disorder or a socially pathological phenomenon. Young gay people are often targets of peer violence, while teachers and other school staff are not trained to tackle the problem.

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