All people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should be able to enjoy their human rights. Threats and discrimination against LGBTI community members and activists are still present in Kosovo while cases of hate speech targeting members of sexual minorities are rarely investigated. The harassments are rarely reported to relevant institutions nor are they handled by prosecution. As such, it reflects in discouraging the community to report on them.
The Kosovo Constitution and the Kosovo’s Anti-Discrimination Law forbid discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation. The Law was amended recently by including the grounds of gender identity benefitting transgender persons as well. In addition, since 2013 Kosovo Government has adopted a decision to establish an advisory and coordinating group for the rights of LGBTI community. This group serves as a mechanism for Kosovo institutions intending to protect and promote human rights of the LGBTI community. Despite these progressive moves, a lot remains to be done in this realm.
Aware of the situation of LGBTI community as an underserved part of society, already back in 2012 the Embassy of Finland in Pristina decided to support their cause. For almost three years, through NGO QESh (Center for Social Emancipation), efforts were focused on awareness raising campaigns for the community, the general public, training of the Kosovo Police officials and lectures at Pristina University on the rights of LGBTI community.
For first time ever in Kosovo, on 17 May 2014, on the International Day against Against Homophobia and Transphobia, three NGOs QESh, CEL (Centre for Equality and Liberty) and CSGD (Center for Social Group Development) organized a march. On the same day, Kosovo's government building was lit with the colors of rainbow while many international organizations and Embassies raised the rainbow flag. This year, celebration of May 17 “Walk and Dance against Homophobia” gathered a greater number of both civil and institutional supporters. The participants enjoyed the good atmosphere created by a band playing music at the main city square.
The persistent efforts of the Embassy toward improving the lives of LGBTI community in Kosovo are continuing. While gays and lesbians are slowly gaining more visibility thanks to above mentioned activities, the trans-genders are far from being socially acknowledged. In this respect, the current intervention implemented by CSGD will tackle this issue as well as reaching the LGBTI community in North Kosovo.
During this spring, a conference to promote the LGBTI person’s rights to participate in politics was organized. The event gathered representatives from the government, ministries and political parties gathered to discuss and find ways to improve the current state of the community and their involvement in politics. Despite the progress achieved so far, a more proactive role of Kosovo authorities and an honest and open political support is needed. Promotion of equal treatment, legal protection of community members and raising awareness among Kosovo officials of their responsibility to enforce the applicable legislation in the country, are few of issues to be addressed immediately.