The ongoing anti-LGBT campaign in Banjaluka is part of an attempt by authorities in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity to impose “authoritarian policies” by using a narrative that “originated in Russia”, activists told N1 on Monday.
RS President, Milorad Dodik, recently announced that a law which would prohibit members of the LGBT community from entering educational institutions will be adopted in the entity. This comes shortly after LGBT activists were attacked by hooligans in Banjaluka, the administrative centre of the entity, following Dodik's statements in which he condemned a gathering the activists had planned in the city.
According to Drazen Crnomat from the Banja Luka Social Center (BASOC), which was vandalised by hooligans last week, “violence against the LGBT community is prominently being imposed in the city” and the LGBT community and their supporters are being persecuted.
He argued that the situation is a result of a clash between authorities and dissenters, “those who have an independent thought or those who have an independent source of financing.
He said that, because of this, the victims of such attacks can not expect the police to protect them.
Emina Bosnjak, the director of the Sarajevo Open Center, said that there was evident progress in the past period when it comes to LGBT rights in the country, but that there is an anti-LGBT campaign ongoing in the RS at this moment.
“It is a narrative and a policy that originated in Russia, and which spread to certain countries of Central Europe, so it was seen in Poland and Hungary,” she said, arguing that the most vulnerable social groups, such as the LGBT community, are being used to impose “authoritarian policies”.
“What we are seeing today is terrible, and for some, it is just an opportunity to stay in power regardless of the fact that they are calling for violence,” said Bosnjak.
Activists from Banja Luka have already initiated lawsuits against those responsible for calling for violence, as well as those directly behind the attack, she said, adding that this also involves politicians such as RS President, Milorad Dodik, and Banjaluka Mayor, Drasko Stanivukovic.
Bosnjak also commented on the controversial Draft law, saying that it “makes no sense”.
“Because no organization, even in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH, the other entity), has access to schools if it does not have the approval from the Ministry and ultimately the school,” she explained.
She argued that LGBT activists already effectively do not have access to schools and that this initiative represents “a signal of an authoritarian government practising strictness on the weak and leading to the eventual annulment of freedom of expression and freedom of identity.”
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