On May 17, International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia the “Regional Network Against Homophobia” spread a Memorandum formed by the 18 representatives of its member countries for the joint improvement of the legal and social status of the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer) people in
Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Macedonia, Montenegro, Palestine, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey
“The Regional Network Against Homophobia” is established in May 2011 with the participation of LGBTIQ organizations and initiatives from Middle East, North Africa, Balkans and Caucasus. The Network stands against homophobia and transphobia but also against sexism, nationalism, militarism and religious conservatism that perpetuate the heterosexist ideology.
The network, which aims to stand up against similar political patterns and break mental and physical borders that separate us, declares its first Annual Memorandum on how the year of 2012 looked concerning the LGBTIQ people’s human rights in these 18 countries. This Memorandum is a true summary of the large scale of homophobia and transphobia which ranges from criminalization and executions to condemning LGBTIQ society in the name of religion, morality or even “fighting capitalism”.
We are here to underline that human rights are not something given by someone, so for their protection it cannot be intervened selectively. We are here to say LGBTIQ rights are human rights. LGBTIQ people are more likely to experience discrimination, harassment and threat of violence due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is due to the existence of homophobia and transphobia on a high level. Some of the factors that reinforce homophobia and transphobia on a larger scale are moral, nationalist, religious, and political beliefs of dominant groups in these countries.
Therefore there has to be well-suited protection for the LGBTIQ society, which these countries all fail to assure. Protection of discrimination and the integrity of the person are one of the priorities in the international documents to which all the mentioned above are signers.
No country or institution should deny its people their rights because of their sexual orientation or gender identity which is why we need governments, NGOs and society to stand up against the violations of these rights in our countries.
INTRODUCTION TO THE EXISTING SITUATIONS
It is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights(1). The sexual orientation or the gender identity could not be a reason for a human being not to be treated equally in dignity. Human beings from all sexual orientations and gender identities are entitled to the full enjoyment of all human rights.
Everyone is entitled to enjoy all human rights without discrimination(2) on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity(3). Everyone is entitled to equality before the law and the equal protection of the law. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity understands any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on sexual orientation or gender identity which has the purpose or effect of nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal basis, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
In our regions, the countries stated above, the LGBTIQ population is living under pressure and fear of being who they are. The existence of social exclusion and political oppression against the people who don’t fit the heteronormative traditional concept is generally based on a dangerous strategy from the political structures, which is keeping them in the dark and not letting any space for visibility of the LGBTIQ society, which is also continuously denying the existence and the relevance of the activists’ fight for representation of the society and the presence of these rights in the public sphere.
The only way of expression for the LGBTIQ society is through staying in the “closet” like the only place for their relations, emotions and life, so the general public has the false legitimate way of denying them because of their fear of the unknown, justified by the potential destruction of the majority’s moral values. This patriarchal and heteronormative atmosphere is pushing the LGBTIQ people into shame and fear of expressing themselves which has a destructive consequence of stealth discrimination.
By silencing the LGBTIQ activists, their organizations and the events organized by LGBTIQ organizations, the lack of protection of the LGBTIQ society in these countries creates impossible conditions for this people to live in dignity, equal and without discrimination.
The effect of creating hierarchies among human rights can be felt in the politic and cultural sphere. The question of the sexual and gender rights are on the bottom of the pyramid and therefore the conclusion for the wider public is that these rights should wait some better time as there are more important problems on the agenda of the government to be dealing with.
In all of our countries there are constant violations of LGBTIQ rights and lack of government efforts to condemn such violations and protecting this society, even somewhere the government encourages the oppression of this society.
We want to remind of the importance and the necessity for the States to protect their people and ensure the protection of their rights. We call upon our governments to take their responsibilities and our demands very seriously and start acting by the international law with ensuring a protection of the LGBTIQ rights and ensure an effective amendment and implementation of the legislations.
- Respect, protection and fulfillment of the human rights of LGBTIQ people
- The right to live a safe life in dignity
- Adequate legal protection from hate crimes and hate propaganda
- Support for the LGBTIQ human rights defenders and civil society groups, with programmatic and financial assistance
- Non-discriminatory education on sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, and training of teachers and school personnel on homophobic and transphobic bullying in all schools
- Informal education and continuous informing of general population on homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism
- Training of law enforcement personnel to deal respectfully and effectively with homophobic and transphobic violence
- Protection of LGBTIQ people from discrimination at workplace
- Establishing information channels for coordination and working contexts for cooperation of the state institutions and LGBTIQ organizations and groups for developing, improving and implementation of the non-discrimination policies regarding the LGBTIQ people
- Efficient legal protection in sport against of any kind discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation
- Equality in access and support for participation in sport of all including gender identity and sexual orientation on all levels
- The decriminalization of homosexuality
The struggle to end discrimination against LGBTIQ people is a global challenge, and one that is also a priority in promoting human rights. This challenge is easier to be achieved, if it is fought with united forces, not just on national but also on a regional and global level. Therefore, we all have signed this document seeking for support from everywhere. The fight for human rights violated somewhere is a responsibility to everyone from everywhere.
We want our countries to remember the responsibility they have for the LGBTIQ society and we call upon our governments to protect a whole category of people living and seeking for the respect of their rights.
- Hate speech and incitement to hatred by public figures from politics and media
- Having to struggle everyday to push for institutions to properly condemn such cases of discrimination
- Criminalization of homosexual acts and cross-dressing
- Existence of no civil rights laws that prohibit unfair discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
- Attacks of nationalist groups on LGBTIQ and feminists events
- Hate speech being propagated by members of parliament and mass media
- Police abuses against gays, mainly male sex workers
- Usage of homosexuality by state-controlled media outlets as a tool to harass and discredit critics of the government and opposition journalists
Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Frequent and increasing hate crimes, violence and threats against LGBTIQ persons and activists
- Lack of proper regulation of legal gender recognition of transgender and transsexual persons as well as inadequate and complicated legal procedures for this recognition
- Violence, hate speech and discrimination in sport that has been repeatedly re-surfacing in sport vanes, locker rooms and sport institutions through fan slurs and violence, stereotyping by coaches and sport officials
- The attack of several extremist groups against the LGBTIQ people
- The homophobic discourse of the government and media
- Sexual and bodily interventions by The Muslim Brothers
- Religious and nationalist attacks on the LGBTIQ society
- Eviction of LGBTIQ persons from media and social spheres
- The targeted attacks in Athens and other Greek cities by organized teams of far-right thugs on LGBTQI persons in the public space
- The lack of official recognition of organized far-right violence against LGBTQI persons
- Lack of official recognition and adequate legal protections for sexual orientation and gender identity
- The disregard of LGBTIQ rights on the excuse of the economic crisis
- The use of criminal or personal status laws in order to criminalize non-conforming sexual and gender identities and formations in Iraq
- The misuse of Iraqi LGBTIQ rights in order to encourage foreign interference and an erasure of their culture and peoples
- The use of Palestinian LGBTIQ struggle to pinkwash the image of Israel and hide the reality of racist polices, apartheid and occupation
- Sexual and bodily interventions and arrests on the grounds of morality and ethics
- Anal and vaginal examination as a form of validation of conducting adultery and determining sexual orientation/activity
- The lack of will by the police and Ministry of Justice to protect LGBTIQ people from arbitrary arrests based on sexual orientation and gender identity as civil society and public health syndicates recommended
- The attacks on the LGBTIQ human rights defenders
- The attacks on the LGBTI Support Center
- The homophobic campaign by the government and media
- The attacks on LGBTIQ persons, as well as civil society activists engaged in promoting and protecting LGBTIQ rights in the field
- Not only the oppression of the LGBTIQ society by the Israeli regime, but also the siege of lives by Islamist groups as well as seculars in the name of “morality”
- The constant tyranny of the hooligans every time there is an intent for organizing a pride or any other event with LGBTIQ context
- Discrimination based on gender
- The penalization of homosexuality
- Hate crimes and insecurity experienced by the LGBTIQ society
- The practice of anal test by police
- Complete negligence of LGBTIQ reality in social, labor, educational and legal spheres
- Hate speeches by government representatives and conservative media
- The use of “unjust provocation” factor in hate murder cases which reduces the punishment and therefore awards the offenders
- Refusal of addressing LGBTIQ reality in the Constitution, Anti-Discrimination Bill and the absence of a Hate Crime legislation
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, https://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
2. UN Resolution Human Rights on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, https://www.dayagainsthomophobia.org/UN-Resolution-on-Human-Rights,1237
3. Charter of the United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/