The Colorful Network of BiH: Homophobia in Public Institutions Has to Stop

On April 19th, 2012, at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Sarajevo, an incident occurred during a voluntary blood donation drive. This drive was organized by the Institute for Transfusion Medicine of FBiH (the Institute) and supported by the Faculty of Philosophy.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), it comes as no surprise to anyone who wants to donate blood that the Institute directly and indirectly discriminates against gay persons by not allowing them to donate blood and thus help someone or even save their life. Gay persons are not the only ones who are “unwanted”. Although such praxis is discriminatory and exclusive, work on overturning it has stayed within a certain framework, until April 19th when a group of students publicly raised their voices against it.

On that day, students asked their Dean for support, only to be told that there is nothing to be done and that the voluntary blood donation drive is fully a responsibility of the Institute. Students then started talking to their peers, pointing at obvious discrimination. The incident occurred when an employee of the Institute physically came onto a student and when the Librarian, an employee of the Faculty, verbally started offending another student who declared herself as a lesbian. The Librarian called her, and other students, derogatory names, adding that she will wait for them after school, and specifically stating to the female student the following: “If you were my child, I would kill you on the spot.” This incident was reported to the Police that same day.

Hate speech is defined as any statement calling for violence, hatred and discrimination against individuals or groups, mostly on the grounds of their sexual orientation, race or religion. Harassment, consisting of humiliation and belittlement on the grounds of sexual orientation, is prohibited by the Law Against Discrimination in BiH (Article 2, para 1, and Article 6). In addition, this Law prohibits direct and indirect discrimination, sexual harassment, mobbing, segregation, and giving authority and inciting others to discriminate (Articles 3 and 4).

The Colorful Network of BiH is requesting that the Institute for Transfusion Medicine of FBiH and the Faculty of Philosophy publicly denounce such primitive and unprofessional behavior of their own employees. Their employees have used their positions as civil servants to violently promote their own primitive standards and prejudice. By this, they not only jeopardized the very institutions they represent, but also the sectors of health and education, as a whole. In case that the Institute and the Faculty of Philosophy share the views of their employees and do nothing to address this troublesome situation, we call on our government to sanction them. Spreading hate, intolerance, and discrimination presents, as well as deepening the lack of security and trust provides a serious threat not only to LGBTIQ persons, but all citizens of BiH.

We are also using this opportunity to invite all organizations to join us in calling on relevant institutions to react and take adequate actions against hate speech and institutional discrimination.

We hope that all Faculties as well as health institutions will publicly denounce such indecent behavior, and will work on regaining the trust. Their goals are to educate our youth and to take care of their health, both physically and psychologically, and not to discriminate, hurt and exclude.

The Colorful Network was founded in July 2011. It is composed of activists of various human rights organizations, as well as individuals who work in the field of LGBTIQ activism in BiH.

Sincerely,
The Colorful Network of BiH

Other signatories:
Organization Q, BiH
Youth Center “KVART”, BiH
Ostra Nula, BiH
UNSA Geto, BiH
Zagreb Pride, Croatia
LezzQuattro, Serbia
Organization of United Citizens, BiH
Lesbian Section SKUC-LL, Slovenia
Journal for Critique of Science and New Anthropology, Slovenia
Labris – Organization for Lesbian Human Rights, Serbia
Juventas, Montenegro
Lesbian Organization Rijeka “Lori”, Croatia
Women’s Room – Center for Sexual Rights, Croatia
Zasto ne - Why not, BiH
Organization Pravo ljudski, BiH
ILGA-Europe, Belgium
Heart and Hand Fund, USA
PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania, Albania
LGBT Forum Progress, Montenegro
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, USA
Trans-Fuzja Foundation, Poland

Individuals:
· Jill Irvine, Ph.D., Presidential Professor, Director, Women's and Gender Studies Program, University of Oklahoma
· Janice Irvine, Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts
· Tanya Domi, former Spokesperson, OSCE Mission to BiH and Adjunct Professor, Columbia University
· Svetlana Durkovic
· Alma Selimovic
· Kathryn Maddux, Washington, DC
· Ana Miskovska Kajevska, PhD, University of Amsterdam
· Bergin Kulenovic