Statement by the International Community in Commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia

May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia. Homophobia is defined as all the negative attitudes that can lead to rejection and discrimination towards gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Unfortunately, this remains a worldwide problem, and we the undersigned are committed to fighting this and all forms of intolerance. LGBT persons are often denied human rights and fundamental freedoms, and we hope to encourage serious action by the B&H government to promote and protect the rights of LGBT citizens.

There are several obstacles standing in the way of protecting the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by LGBT persons as many prejudices against them rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. However, one’s right to disagree with the way someone else leads his or her life is just as inviolable as others’ rights to pursue happiness.  One may disagree with how others live, but in a democratic society all people should be able to live free from fear of reprisal simply for their sexual orientation or gender identity.  Homosexuality is not illegal in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but because of the prejudices they must endure, the lives of gay people, particularly young people, are extremely difficult and at times even dangerous. This situation is not acceptable in any free society and it is the duty of a representative government to protect these individuals and their basic human rights.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression conflicts with the fundamental principle of the full and equal enjoyment of rights of all persons.  Such discrimination is prohibited by international laws, including in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), the UN convention on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as well as the 2009 BiH Law on the Prohibition of Discrimination.  In June 2011, a resolution was adopted in the UN Human Rights Council explicitly stating that everyone is entitled to all human rights and fundamental freedoms regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We look forward to the day when all people in B&H, including members of the LGBT community can exercise their full rights and live in safety and security, free from physical, emotional or verbal harassment and abuse.

Ambassador Nigel Casey
United Kingdom

Ambassador Bosse Hedberg
Kingdom of Sweden

Mary Ann Hennessey
Head of Council of Europe Office in B&H

Ambassador Ulrike Maria Knotz
Federal Republic of Germany

Ambassador Vibeke Lilloe
Kingdom of Norway

Ambassador José Lindgren-Alves
Federative Republic of Brazil

Ambassador Patrick S. Moon
United States of America

Ambassador Sweder van Voorst tot Voorst
Kingdom of the Netherlands

Embassy of Switzerland to Bosnia and Herzegovina