Juventas is a non-governmental, non-profit organization founded in January, 1996 in Podgorica, Montenegro. Juventas gathers high school and university students and other young people who wish to be a part of their environment’s social dynamics and thus influence their future.
Homophobia in Montenegro
In July 2010, Juventas conducted a research poll on homophobia among the Montenegrin public, while LGBT Forum Progress and Centre for Civic Education implemented their survey in January 2012. Both surveys showed that a high level of homophobia exists: 68.5% of the population in 2010 and 59.9% in 2012 believed that homosexuality is a disease. Similarly, 61.3% in 2010 believed that homosexuals do not have the right to freely disclose their sexual orientation in public, while 45% of people interviewed had this opinion in 2012.
This high level of homophobia causes significant lack of trust among LGBT persons in relation to State institutions3, which discourages them from undertaking activities that would improve their current situation. This, in turn, is reflective of the fact that societal attitudes coincide with the limitations of the current legal and institutional framework.
A high level of homophobia has been measured among professionals in a research conducted by Juventas in May 2012, which included data collected among service providers. As an illustration, this research showed that: 51% of police officers and 48.1% of medical workers think that homosexuality is a disease, 68.6% of police officers and 59.7% of medical workers think that homosexuality is not natural and 66.7% of police officers and 48.1% of medical workers would feel as failed parents upon finding out that their child is gay.
According to the Juventas, the LGBT community in Montenegro is facing three main problems:
(1) A high level of homophobia in Montenegrin society, meaning a high influence of stereotypes and prejudices on attitudes and low level of knowledge on sexuality and gender identity among general population and professionals;
(2) violence and discrimination against LGBT population, which is rarely reported;
(3) a under-documented and inadequate legal and institutional framework addressing the needs of LGBT people.
These problems are interrelated. The high level of homophobia is a direct consequence of social norms, the lack of knowledge on sexuality and gender identity and an inadequate legal and institutional framework. It is also a cause of discrimination and violence towards LGBT people, low capacities of institutions to protect the rights of LGBT people, and finally the cause of significant lack of trust of LGBT people in institutions. This also results in the fact that violence and discrimination cases are rarely reported and documented.
From: Juventas and Montenegro Gay Portal
“No more no less: Equal rights for all”
LGBT rights situation analysis in Montenegro
Homophobia is defined as a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
LGBT people are also victims of violence, which is rarely reported. During 2011, LGBT Forum Progress and Juventas have documented at least 30 cases of discrimination and violence, some of which proved to be quite severe. Surveys have measured a decrease in public support of violence, but in 2012 11% of general population still justifies violent behaviour directed at LGBT people.
As far as service providers are concerned our indicative research showed that 10.2% of police officers and 18.4% of medical workers think that verbal violence against LGBT persons is justified, while 5.7% of police officers and 11.4% of medical workers excuse physical violence. Psychological and social
support program should be established to respond to the needs of LGBT people who experience strong homophobia/transphobia, especially focusing on coming-out process, family relations, work place relations as well as partner relations.
The government have been changing their approach within the past three years, changing its policies from highly homophobic or ignorant to formally very cooperative. The most important document that governmental organisations and NGOs are working on in this moment is the National Strategy of Fight Against Homophobia which is expected to be adopted in the near future.
The baseline for this document has been provided throughout a project named “Montenegro a bright spot on a gay map” implemented by Juventas.
Nevertheless, ignorance and disputes are still present on the level of implementation of adopted standards and recommendations. In March 2010, Montenegro voted for the Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Council of Europe supports the monitoring of the implementation of these Recommendations in 2012/13, while Juventas engaged in NGO monitoring with the support of ILGA-Europe.
Some of the most important activities carried out by Juventas in the domain of LGBT rights are:
• Delivering health services for at least 800 people;
• The first gay portal in Montenegro www.montenegro-gay.me launched (March 2009);
• The first IDAHO campaign in Montenegro organized;
• Juventas became local partner of the Conference “Justice in Balkans: Equality for
sexual minorities” which was the first conference on LGBT rights in Montenegro;
•From December 2009 to April 2011 Juventas implemented a project called “Montenegro a bright spot on a gay map” supported by the Delegation of EU to Montenegro. which kept LGBT rights on the top of the political agenda in our country This project introduced a common agenda for human rights and democratic reform in the area of LGBT human rights within different sectors. It created a knowledge data-base (numerous surveys and analyses), a wide network of support by launching Coalition for LGBT rights, which included representatives of state institutions and CSOs,working together on drafts of strategic documents. After, official consultation between civil society and Deputy Prime minister, Government of Montenegro formed three working groups which took these drafts as a starting point for the future National Strategy against Homophobia and Analysis of the institutional and legal framework for LGBT rights in Montenegro. Working group in charge for the Analysis mentioned accepted the initial document with introducing small number of corrections.
Basis for all future researches and activities related to LGBT issues;
• Since January 2010 Juventas became a partner of ILGA Europe on “Step Up!” project, and in 2011 a member of the ILGA-Europe;
• Juventas’ legal team constantly worked on the draft Law on anti-discrimination, one part of which our suggestions were adopted and are in the current version of the Law;
• Trainings for scaling up capacities of LGBT activists;
• Yogyakarta principles translated into Montenegrin and distributed;
• Committee of Ministers’ Recommendations on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity and Resolution of Parliamentary assembly of Council of Europe translated in Montenegrin and distributed;
• National coalition “Together for LGBT rights” established;
• More than 100 professionals trained on LGBT rights and sexual identity;
• The first appeal to Ombudsman related to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity sent;
• The first comprehensive research on the degree of homophobia in Montenegro carried out;
• Counseling center for LGBT people opened (community building activities within the Counseling center started and ongoing (workshops, trainings, social events, psychological and medical consultations)). This is our favorite activity which enabled the community to gather in one place and be themselves without ever having consequences.
• The first comprehensive research on the degree of homophobia in Montenegro among police officers and medical workers carried out;
• The first research on the degree of homophobia in Montenegro among youth carried out;
• The first successful research on STI’s prevalence among MSM implemented;
• The first National Conference “Montenegro – brighter spot on an LGBT map” held;
• Lobbing activities for the adoption of the Action Plan of fight against homophobia succeeded: after official consultation between Juventas, other members of Coalition for LGBT rights and LGBT Forum Progress with the Deputy Prime minister, Government of Montenegro formed three working groups which made drafts of strategic documents as a starting point for the future National Strategy Against Homophobia. Working group in charge for Analysis of the institutional and legal framework for LGBT rights in Montenegro, with small corrections, accepted the initial document developed by Juventas.
• Guidelines for the good practice in work with LGBT people for medical workers, judges and prosecutors, police officers and psychologists created;
• In June 2012, Ministry of Health and Juventas made initial agreement according to which Juventas will be in charge for the creation of protocols related to gender reassignment surgery.
More About Montenegro Gay Portal (MGP)
One part of Juventas’ activities was the design and constant work on the first web portal for Montenegrin LGBT community Montenegro Gay Portal. In order to explain to the community what is the main focus of the portal, Juventas team wrote an article which explained their mission on the web entitled “I Write Down To Speak Up”.
“MGP was created under the project “Health and Rights”, which is funded by the Global Fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. People working on the content of the site are Juventas’ activists – lesbians, gays and bisexuals, and those who are proven true friends of the LGBT community.
The same people who created content for Montenegro Gay Portal are working on other projects aimed at improving the situation and rights of LGBT
people. They are active members of the coalition “Together for LGBT Rights,” They support equal rights for all and distribute free condoms and lubricant to men who have sex with men and inform them on how best to protect against sexually transmitted infections. They inform where and how free and confidential HIV/AIDS testing is available, and are often in a situation and to give them moral support in difficult situations.
Also, MGP closely follows developments on the Montenegrin political scene. First, it was important for the process of writing and adopting the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, and now it is for future policy and legislative solutions that will aim to promote democracy and human rights. They regularly monitor the press for the topic of LGBT issues to see they are properly written and analyzed.
Our web site also includes different other services like online counseling. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays are reserved for ones who are willing to chat live with our LGBT activists or with our Dr. Tea Dakic. You can always send us a message. It is important that you talk about a specific problem that you have, enter your correct e- mail address and we will do our best to send you the answer that could be helpful. For those who prefer the sound of someone’s voice, not virtual communication, there is also telephone counseling. Starting from 17.00 till 21.00 you can talk to one of our LGBT activists.
Another novelty on our site is definitely a form of RHVP (Report Homophobic Violence, Period). If you were a victim of any kind of homophobic violence, or have seen the same, you can report it here. If desired, the application may be anonymous. Violence is important to report because it is the only way we can fight against it!
While we find additional strength in our so-called allies, our team actively works on strengthening the Montenegrin LGBT community whose contribution we find to be of great value to Juventas. A small written contribution that we could publish on our web site, dissemination of information important for the community is a significant improvement that we encourage. For all those who are not willing to be “out” there is always an option that we call ‘armchair activism’.
It means that we all don’t have to be visible, but can contribute to improving our society in our own way in a manner that feels the most comfortable.
In the spirit of all the things said above, we use the opportunity to invite you to write us by mail: email@example.com. Send us suggestions and comments on the existing content. If you find some inspiration write us a text or make a photo that you think should be on our web page. Here you can also find our forum that allows you to exchange views with other members and even make new friends.
Soon we plan to make a blog where you will be able to write your thoughts and experiences and share them with others.