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Bosnia and Herzegovina: Failure to protect

Several people were attacked this week at the first “Sarajevo Queer Festival”, said Amnesty International, as it called on the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to provide adequate security for festival participants. The authorities must also promptly and thoroughly investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice, said Amnesty.

Eight people, policemen included, were reported to have been injured after dozens of young men attacked visitors to the festival, which opened on 24 September in the Academy of Fine Arts in the centre of the capital, Sarajevo.

According to the organisers of the event, initially scheduled to continue until 28 September, (the LGBTI non-governmental organisation Udruženje Q), police let anti-gay protestors get too close to the venue thus endangering the participants.

The organisers of the festival and their sympathisers, including journalists, continue to receive death threats. Homophobic posters are widely distributed and put in prominent places. Some media outlets have used homophobic language and misrepresented the aims of the festival.

Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International, said:

“The call of gay rights activists for equality before the law and an end to discrimination was met with intolerance and violence.

“Gay and lesbian people have the same rights as everybody else in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the authorities are obliged to guarantee their right to freedom of assembly and to freedom of expression.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špiric earlier this month, Amnesty International expressed concern at the increasing atmosphere of intimidation against LGBTI people in the country and called on him to ensure that their rights are protected. To date, Amnesty International has not received an answer.

Amnesty calls on political leaders at the highest level to condemn publicly the discrimination against individuals based on their actual or imputed sexual orientation and to make clear that any act of discrimination or violence, whoever the victim, will not be tolerated.

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