International observers have spoken out after tensions around the first ever gay festival in Bosnia intensified.
The Queer Sarajevo Festival is to take place in from September 24th to 27th. The Dutch, Canadian and Swiss embassies are among those supporting the event.
However, a Muslim politician in Bosnia has criticised the country’s gay community for holding an LGBT event that coincides with his religion’s observance of Ramadan.
Posters appeared on the streets of Sarajevo this week proclaiming “Death To Gays” and imams have spoken out, claiming that homosexuality is immoral and contrary to the Koran.
The Bosnia mission of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concern about the situation.
“The mission strongly condemns attempts to incite violence against any group within Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the OSCE said in a statement.
During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast during daylight hours.
Croat and Serb leaders also expressed their displeasure at gay people holding such an event.
“We’ve been preparing the project for the past year and I would not spend my time only to provoke someone,” Svetlana Djurkovic, head of the gay and lesbian rights group Association Q, told AFP.
“It is a festival of culture and art.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a potential candidate country for EU membership.
If admitted it would have the largest Muslim community of any member state.
Recent figures indicate that 40% of the population are Muslims, 31% are Orthodox Christians and 15% are Roman Catholics.
There is an equal age of consent but discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation is “widespread” according to the EU.