A human rights group in Bosnia has called on the editors of newspaper Dnevni Avaz and magazine SAFF to make a public apology after they printed homophobic articles about the Queer Sarajevo Festival.
The event later this month has angered some Muslims in the country as it coincides with Ramadan, a month-long religious observance.
PRAVO LJUDSKI, an NGO that organises Human Rights Film Festival, said the articles, published in the last two weeks, are “homophobic and hate filled towards the LGBTIQ communities: an act which is shameful for a democratic media and secular Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
It called on the editors to make a public apology to the gay community, the organisers of the Queer Sarajevo Festival and “every citizen of a free and equal Bosnia and Herzegovina.”
It said the articles encourage citizens to “hate, discriminate, harass and physically attack members of the LGBTIQ communities.”
The group called the Queer Sarajevo Festival “a manifestation of the human rights culture slowly finding roots in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” and urged the public to “support the organisers and the festival, as well as to condemn every form of hate speech and homophobia.”
The Festival, the first of its kind in the country, is from September 24th to 27th.
Posters appeared on the streets of Sarajevo last 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 has 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.
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.