Tuzla Open Center is a long-term NHC partner. During the five years of its existence, the organization has been working to make Tuzla a city where dignity and human rights for all citizens are respected. This is an important step on the way. Signing a collaboration agreement with the city authorities has been an important goal.
– This is a great and historic moment for us, says Dajana Bakić, Head of Tuzla Open Center. – When you work together with a governmental institution to promote the human rights of LGBTI people, you expand the space of acceptance, freedom and equality.
– We congratulate our colleagues in TOC with this important achievement, says Mina Wikshåland Skouen, Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committees Equal Rights Section. – And especially, we congratulate Tuzla city authorities on recognizing the need for assistance from organizations like TOC. We know this partnership will be useful!
The agreement will ensure that people in service provisions are better equipped to work with LGBTI persons, and to collaborate on specific cases, projects, and events.
In a context where discrimination is widespread particularly in the sphere of service provision, this is huge step forward.
Hate speech and calls for violence
– While on the one hand celebrating this development, the number of hateful comments and calls for violence that surfaced when the collaboration agreement was made public calls for concern, says Skouen. – All instances of hate speech should be investigated and the people responsible should be held accountable.
Hate speech and hate crime remains a problem in Bosnia Herzegovina, where the LGBTI community in general faces widespread marginalization and discrimination. However, civil society has made important progress in breaking down barriers and prejudice. When Sarajevo became the last capital in the region to host their first Pride Parade people were waving and cheering them along from the city center balconies. It was the biggest first parade, with 5000 people marching peacefully through Sarajevo,
– Comments such as ‘LGBTI people are sick’; ‘we should beat the gay out of you’; and ‘you all should be killed’ speak about the attitudes of the public towards the LGBTI population and reflect the society in which LGBTI activists live and work, but it only motivates us to fight for a better community for all, concludes Bakić, who is certain that the collaboration agreement will lead to a better human rights situation in the city.