By Mladen Lakic
Bosnia is one of the few countries in the region that has never hosted a Pride parade – but gay rights activists say that milestone will be finally crossed this September.
Bosnian human rights activists announced on Monday that Bosnia’s first-ever Pride Parade will take place in September in the capital, Sarajevo, and will gather members of the LGBTI community from all over the country.
“Bosnia is finally getting its Pride Parade, which will be held on September 8,” the Sarajevo Open Centre, a non-government organisation with a focus on LGBTI rights told a press conference in Sarajevo.
It explained that 15 members of various organizations will be in charge of Bosnia’s first Pride Parade, without adding any other details.
While most parties in the socially conservative Balkan country remained silent, the Bosnian Croat leader broke ranks to say he was all in favour of it.
“I am a supporter of absolutely all diversity, it is a personal matter. Everyone thinks differently and that is to be appreciated; that is diversity,” Dragan Covic, head of the main Croat party, the Croatian Democratic Union in Bosnia, HDZ BiH, said on Monday.
Bosnia and Herzegovina lags behind the region in tolerance for gay rights. Being gay remained a crime until 1998 and no public Pride events have taken place before now due to security concerns.
Past attempts to organise public LGBT events ended in chaos – and violence.
When the community in Sarajevo tried to organise the first public, four-day cultural festival in September 2008, hoodlums wrecked it on the first day.
But attitudes in the region are changing. Pride events have become more routine and less controversial in the neighbouring former Yugoslav republics of Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro in recent years. Socially conservative, mainly Muslim Kosovo held its first Pride march in October 2017 – which President Hashim Thaci himself attended.