Bosnia and Herzegovina will hold its first Pride event in the capital Sarajevo later this year, drawing members of the LGBT+ community from all over the country.
Speaking to a news conference in the city, one of the organisers Branko Culibrk said: “Bosnia will finally have its Pride march that will be held on 8 September in Sarajevo.
“The march will be a manifestation against inequalities and against violation of LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning) peoples’ rights,” he added.
Another organiser, Dajana Bakic, said: “Pride marches take place everywhere in the region.
“The climate has generally changed and we expect that a large number of citizens will come to show solidarity with us.”
LGBT rights in Bosnia
Until 1998, being homosexual was a crime in the largely conservative country.
Although Bosnia passed anti-discrimination laws that included LGBT+ rights in 2016, the country does not recognise rights for same-sex couples.
Several past attempts to host events in support of LGBT+ rights have ended in violence.
In 2008, a cultural festival in Sarajevo was targeted by hooligans who threw rocks at attendees and in 2014, masked men forced their way into the LGBT-friendly Art Kriterion cinema and attacked people during a queer film festival.
A similar incident occurred in 2016, when several men entered the cinema shouting anti-LGBT slurs.
A 2017 survey conducted by the Sarajevo Open Centre found that safety is a huge concern for LGBT+ people.
Around 69% feel unsafe attending public events or being in public spaces. Another 32% of gay men and 17% of lesbians have experienced violence because of their sexual orientation.
Other neighbouring countries in the Balkans have begun to host LGBT+ Pride events, including the Muslim-majority Kosovo.
Last year, hundreds of people turned out for the second Pride parade in Pristina.
Addressing the event, Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj commented on Facebook: “Our constitution guarantees individual freedom for all.
“LGBT and Pride Week will always have institutional support, to be free and secure to express their orientation.”