Conference “Justice in the Balkans: Equality for sexual minorities” held in Montenegro

A three-day conference “Justice in the Balkans: Equality for sexual minorities” was held in Podgorica. Prominent experts in this field discussed about rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender people in the region of South-Eastern Europe. This is considered one of conditions for the complete democratization in societies and necessary step in the process of integration towards European Union.

Not even one representative from Montenegrin Government participated to the conference, even though the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights was one of the donors of the conference.

Ulrike Lunacek, European Parliament Member, emphasized that absence of Montenegrin officials on the conference is a clear sign of the fear over publicly speaking about LGBT rights in Montenegro.

Mrs Lunacek (Green MEP) stated that “If Montenegro truly wants to progress, it is clear that politicians have to learn to positively speak about LGBT population”. She also pointed out that she doesn’t see the reason why Montenegrin politicians are afraid of speaking about issues of sexual minorities, since Montenegro has clear will to integrate into EU and therefore follow all European standards.

Montenegro far behind EU in LGBT rights

Another interesting article appeared in Balkan Insight.  This research shows clearer image about life of LGBT people in Montenegro.

Here are several excerpts from the article:

Ancient taboo
The patriarchal culture of this small country, with a population of only 620,000, has shaped a mentality that makes it difficult for alternative sexual orientations to be accepted. Although Montenegro was one of the first former Yugoslav republics to decriminalise homosexuality, doing so in 1977, most citizens still view homosexuality as a disorder. “Montenegro is well known for its traditional, patriarchal and tribal attitudes that determine people’s positions on numerous social issues and phenomena”, Srdjan Vukadinovic, a sociology professor from the Montenegrin Social Research Center, explains. “That is why societal change is taking place much more slowly than in neighbouring countries.”

There is little to indicate that a change in people’s attitudes is imminent. Social and political leaders mostly keep quiet on the subject of sexual orientation or express negative views, while the media rarely cover themes related to the gay and lesbian community, which has no leaders to articulate their demands in public.

Tool for blackmail
Because people’s alternative sexual orientations remain closely-guarded secrets, homosexuality is often used for blackmail. “When you have a traditional mentality like that in Montenegro, being targeted as a homosexual is the least desirable thing,” Zekovic says.

It can be easier to harm someone’s reputation in Montenegro by saying they are gay than by saying they are corrupt or have broken the law, he adds. Zekovic accuses Montenegro’s political elite of routinely using allegations of homosexuality as tools to discredit rivals and opponents. Individuals outside of politics often do the same. Victims from all sectors of society usually omit any public mention of the homophobic aspect of threats they receive, in order to protect their privacy in an intolerant environment.

Read full article by Nela Lazarevic

Montenegro’s Gay Community Stays Hidden to Survive
The invisibility of homosexuals and lesbians in public and social spheres is further slowing efforts to overcome homophobia in this conservative society. Recent research has shown that around 50% of population believes that homosexuality is very dangerous for the society, and that State should try to condemn it.  Also, 75% of people think that “Homosexuals should not express their sexual identity in public”.  Interestingly, similar number (71%) believes that GLBT population is not endangered.

Montenegro still does not have publicly declared homosexual person, neither there are civic organizations, NGO’s or groups who strive to protect and promote gay and lesbian rights.

by Montenegro NewsBlog
Source – BlogActiv