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Addressing the “taboos” and changing prevailing attitudes in respect to sex (gender) identity, sexual orientation and people living with HIV

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According to the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina, issued by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the US State Department7. Due to the unknown factors responsible, hate crimes and violence against sexual and gender minorities and people living with HIV are present in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Domestic violence against women and hate crimes and violence against LGBTTIQ and people living with HIV

Violence against women

According to data from the Federal Ministry of the Interior23, in the first six months of 2005, 314 criminal acts of violence in the family were registered, which was 44% higher than in the same period the previous year. According to Magbul Skoro, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior in Sarajevo Canton, in the eight-month period of 2005, 204 criminal acts of domestic violence were registered, while in the same period of 2004, 141 criminal acts of domestic violence were registered. According to data from the Ministry of the Interior in the canton of Zapadna Hercegovina, in the first half of 2005, 2 criminal acts of domestic violence were registered, while in the same period the year before, 3 cases were registered.

According to data from the Center for Public Security Banja Luka, which covers the city of Banja Luka and 16 municipalities, the number of reported cases of domestic violence is increasing daily. Due to the current patriarchal attitude in society, it is believed that there are many more unreported cases of domestic violence.

Present Legal and Institutional Framework

Present Legal Framework

  • LGBTTIQ

Although there is a conflict between the laws in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (according to the Law on the Protection against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is treated as a minor offence, while the Criminal Code of the F BiH treats domestic violence as the criminal offence) , according to the Prosecutor's Office of the Cantonal Court of Sarajevo, the act of domestic violence was treated as a criminal offense by rule. Finally, in 2003 the Criminal Code of Bosnia and Herzegovina was approved,38 which includes "Violation of the Equality of Individuals and Citizens" clause which in Article 145, paragraph (1) proclaims that. 35 Law on the Adoption of the Criminal Code of SRBiH Official Gazette of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina No.

36 Criminal Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina no. In addition, the family law of Bosnia and Herzegovina (valid on the territory of the Federation of BiH) and the family law of the Republika Srpska, do not regulate the issue of the same-sex unions at all (which immediately represents discrimination in terms of inheritance for example39).

Institutional framework

When it comes to implementing and promoting the laws related to the prevention of domestic violence against women, hate crimes and violence against LGBTTIQ people and people living with HIV, the situation is far from ideal. 40 the Institutional Evaluations of seven Universities in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Summary report prepared by the European University Association, joint project of the European Commission and the Council of Europe, December 2004), pp15, item 14. Regarding the police and their response to domestic violence against women and hate crimes and violence against LGBTTIQ people the following was concluded from the interviews conducted by the activist of CNA41 who worked in 2003 in a few Municipalities (Prijedor, Zavidovići, Žepče) on a project about sensitizing the police forces and facilitating them for quality response in situations of domestic violence.

The activists of Association Q noted that the responses from the police are often negative. Regarding domestic violence against women, I interviewed with the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Sarajevo Cantonal Court, where I was told that about 90% of women refuse to give evidence against their husbands in criminal proceedings on domestic violence.

Present media attitude

This information is confirmed by the results of the research conducted by the Institute of Crime and Security Studies of the Faculty of Criminalistic Science of the University of Sarajevo42. Regarding violence against women, most of the articles are posted on the Crime pages and most of them are very short. Regarding people living with HIV, there was only one short piece that mentioned the occasion of the report on the health situation in the Federation of BiH when the Minister of Health mentioned the presence of HIV/AIDS in BiH and all the newspapers published it .

43 According to the omnibus survey of the Mareco Index Bosnia-BiH member of Gallup International for September 2005 regarding newspaper consumption, these four dailies took the following positions: Avaz No. Regarding the frequency of women's appearance in the media, the statistics are more than devastating – in the total number of published texts, women are presented in only 4.4% of the text.

Current NGO situation

LGBTTIQ NGO

In terms of the visibility of the issues regarding the rights of LGBTTIQ people, a few steps forward (however small) were made when the LGBTTIQ Association Q, which was established in 2002, was finally formally registered in February 2004 (although the association's address is not published due to the death benefits the members have received). Thanks to the group of zealots from the Association for Sexual and Reproductive Health, XY, the project of establishing the first Association to support people living with HIV/AIDS (APOHA47) was initiated in July 2004. So long there is not enough government support and policy, the chances of progress are quite slim.

What needs to be done?

Unfortunately, although its goal is to operate throughout the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, its effectiveness and visibility is still low. Although established, the Gender Centers are not doing much to monitor the implementation of the Law on Gender Equality of BiH, it would be useful to establish the institution of the Equality Ombudsman at the national level, whose task would be to monitor the coordination of the laws and other laws and regulations in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the protection of gender equality rights (including the protection of the rights and interests of gender and sexual minorities), to make efforts to protect and promote gender equality rights (including the protection and promotion of the rights and interests of gender and sexual minorities); I propose.

How is this achievable?

Since it is difficult for the victims of domestic violence or hate crimes to go to the media and present stories there (since most of the time they will be ridiculed and even threatened, especially if it is the case of LGBTTIQ or people living with HIV) , it is very important to find the people who will offer their support and accept the media exposure instead of the victims (organizations like PFLAG and other activists who can speak publicly about the issue without fear of consequences - here is the need for the role of ombudsman for equality to be visible). In order to ensure a constant, smart and not too aggressive presence in the media, it is not a bad idea to appoint a press officer who will ensure the distribution of the regular press releases, comments and analysis to the media. The lobbying work must take place jointly and mobilize as much of the civil sector as possible.

It is a good idea to lobby all state and local authorities for the adoption of laws and. In order to change the law or introduce new laws, it is good to use the help of international non-governmental organizations to put pressure on the government from the outside48.

Possible problems

It is important to mark the important dates publicly by providing the statement that will be heard. Since the shelters and support centers may not function without certain reliable funds and the state is not willing or able to provide funding at this moment, a lot of effort and abilities of the NGOs and activists must be spent on fundraising (and of course it will be better if those efforts and abilities are spent helping and assisting the victims of violence). Since the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina has a great influence on the attitudes of people of BiH, the uneducated and incompetent journalists can worsen the current situation instead of improving it.

Many employees are not there for the things, but only for the money. As international donors, who have sponsored BiH NGOs for the past 10 to 15 years, withdraw from Bosnia and Herzegovina, many of these organizations will be closed or forced to reduce their budgets and rely on volunteer forces (unfortunately, volunteerism and solidarity are qualities that the BiH society somehow lost in the transition process).

Conclusion

Although the legislative situation regarding the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of gender and sexual orientation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is slowly improving, it is still far from meeting the EU criteria. Given the pace of change and the general interest of the ruling parties in the issue, it may take another 15-20 years for laws in Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet EU non-discrimination standards. Furthermore, the improvement in the implementation of laws is even worse, but still only minor steps have been taken in terms of truly solving the problems of non-discrimination.

It is not enough to pass the law and expect it to be implemented on its own, but certain steps must be taken to promote and implement the law. As Claudia Roth50, the German Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated.

Bibliography

Criminal Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Official Gazette of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina No. Helsinki Committee for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Report on the status of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina (analysis for the period January – December 2004), available at: http://www.bh-hchr.org/Reports/reportHR2004.htm. Helsinki Committee for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Report on the status of human rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina (analysis for the period January – December 2005), available at: http://www.bh-hchr.org/Reports/reportHR2005.htm.

Helsinki Committee for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Segregation and Apartheid at Work, 13 September 2005, available at http://www.bh-hchr.org/index2.htm. Act on Takeover Criminal Code of the SRBiH, Official Gazette of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina no.

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