ILGA-Europe calls on the Government of Kosovo to react after violent incidents
Find the letter sent to the Government of Kosovo after two homophobic incidents. (in English and Albanian)
Mr. Hashim Thaçi
Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo
Prof. Dr. Hajredin Kuçi
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice
20 December 2012, Brussels
As the European umbrella organisation working for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and representing over 390 organisations across Europe, we are writing to you to call for a swift investigation of violent attacks targeting LGBTI community in Kosovo on 14th and 16th of December 2012. We call on you to take broad measures to address hate violence and discrimination against LGBTI people in Kosovo.
On 14th December 2012, the launch of the Kosovo 2.0 magazine on ‘Sex and sexuality’, which contained articles on LGBT activism and human rights work in the Western Balkans, was disrupted by mob violence. Two days later, on the 16th of December, Pristina-based LGBT organisation Libertas, which is a member of ILGA-Europe, was attacked by a group of violent extremists who have beaten up one member of the community. They entered inside the premises of the community centre, threw tear gas and created havoc. Following these attacks death threats are continuously issued on the internet and by phone against individual human rights activists, including a YouTube film showing digitally manipulated images of the editor in chief of Kosovo 2.0 and the leader of Kosova Women's Network, an openly lesbian women’s rights advocate, with gun target sign on their heads.
We would like to remind you that as a result of conservative atmosphere that prevails in Kosovo and the hostility towards the LGBT community most LGBT people hide their sexual orientation when it is known that they are at risk, amongst other things, of physical attack, forced marriage, psychological abuse and discrimination. These recent attacks targeting the community may perpetuate fear, and will lead to further discrimination, exclusion and abuse against them if the situation is not addressed in a timely and systematic manner.
We welcome the statement by the Prime Minister condemning violent attacks and affirming the constitutional rights of all citizens to freedom of expression and protection from discrimination, including on the ground of sexual orientation, and his call ‘to find the authors of these violent attacks and put them in front of justice’. We also welcome the swift and efficient response of the police following the incidents.
We would like to note that sexual orientation and gender identity have been recognised as grounds for non-discrimination at the regional, national, and international levels. In addition, criminal laws many European countries, including Croatia, contain provisions that expressly enable the bias motives of the offenders to be taken into account by the courts as an aggravating circumstance when sentencing.
In 2011 Progress Report the Commission criticises Kosovo for failing to enforce the anti-discrimination legislation. While the law provides for high level of protection for LGB people, the Commission emphasises that there is little knowledge amongst law enforcement authorities and no political commitment to address discrimination and violence against LGBT people. It therefore urges the government Kosovo to do more to ensure the proper implementation of the anti-discrimination law.
At the same time the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers Recommendation (Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 ) on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity calls upon member states to “[…] ensure effective, prompt and impartial investigations into alleged cases of crimes and other incidents, where the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is reasonably suspected to have constituted a motive for the perpetrator. […] that when determining sanctions, a bias motive related to sexual orientation or gender identity may be taken into account as an aggravating circumstance.” It also notes that ‘Member states should take appropriate measures to ensure, in accordance with Article 10 of the Convention, that the right to freedom of expression can be effectively enjoyed, without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, including with respect to the freedom to receive and impart information on subjects dealing with sexual orientation or gender identity’.
We, therefore, call on you as highest executive authorities of Kosovo
- to ensure that the perpetrators of the violence on 14th and 16th of December are quickly brought to justice and if found guilty, receive adequate sentences;
- to review the criminal code of Kosovo and introduce provisions that will allow a bias motive related to sexual orientation or gender identity be taken into account as an aggravating circumstance in cases of violent acts;
- to amend and effectively implement the anti-discrimination legislation, including on grounds of gender identity;
- to send a strong message to the public that human rights are for all and should be respected, protected and promoted in relation to LGBTI people;
- to undertake and support measures to raise awareness and educate society on the human rights of LGBTI people as to reduce stigma, violence and discrimination.
Executive Director, ILGA-Europe