Conquering the right to assembly of LGBTI people in Bosnia and Herzegovina: towards the first pride parade
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Up until now, it has been challenging to speak about any standard policy practices when it comes to the freedom of assembly of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersex (LGBTI) people in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Ahead of the first pride parade, announced for September 2019, this policy paper examines the reasons why a pride parade, as a particularly important form of advocacy for LGBTI rights, attained through the right to assembly, has not yet taken place in BiH. It also reflects on the examples of assembly which took place in the past, as well as on their results, ultimately offering the arguments as to why a pride parade would be a game-changer when it comes to the rights of the LGBTI community, and makes recommendations to stakeholders on how to help this process along. The Constitutional Court of BiH gave two landmark verdicts stating that homophobic and transphobic violence that took place at the 2008 Queer Sarajevo Festival and 2014 Merlinka Festival violated the right to assembly of LGBTI people. Recommendations on making sure the first pride parade is held peacefully and without obstruction are focused on ensuring the safety of the pride parade and creating an atmosphere in which the public opinion will be free of hate speech aimed at LGBTI people. The police structures of Canton Sarajevo and Federation of BiH should work together to ensure the parade is held without incidents. The media should uphold the highest standards of professionalism and ethics when reporting about the first pride parade in BiH and refuse media space to homophobic and fascist views. The political parties should demonstrate their willingness to respect all human rights, as their statutes claim, and refrain from hate speech and homophobia. Civil society organisations and relevant human rights institutions should continue to support the first pride parade and to bring its importance to the attention of the public, while international stakeholders should continue to pressure the responsible authorities to protect the pride parade in line with the law. United efforts in this direction would make sure that the first pride parade in BiH is held without violence, hate speech and obstruction, thereby signalling a new era of protection of LGBTI rights in this country.