What is CEL?
The Center for Equality and Freedom of the LGBT Community in Kosovo (CEL) was established in July 2013 to strengthen the LGBT community in Kosovo.
CEL prevents discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, raises awareness of the general population about LGBT rights and advocates for equal rights and non-discrimination of the LGBT community in Kosovo in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Kosovo. CEL came into existence as a response to the continued discrimination, stigmatization and prejudice of society towards LGBT persons and the protection of LGBT people in Kosovo
To date, CEL has sought to become a driving force behind the establishment of a progressive, diverse and tolerant society in Kosovo towards the LGBT community; a motivator for changing traditional social constructs and a support system for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all. CEL has also sought to strengthen the legal framework for LGBT people in Kosovo, as well as to increase the participation of LGBT people in relevant international and regional mechanisms and projects beneficial to the community and society at large. Despite being a very young organization, CEL has managed to become one of the leading organizations and driving forces for empowering the LGBTI community in Kosovo by promoting and protecting LGBTI rights and working towards the creation of an inclusive society that protects equality and recognizes and respects diversity.
The highest governing body of the CEL is the board of directors which consists of five members. In addition to key staff directly involved in program implementation, CEL provides a number of external consultants and has a wide network of LGBTI activists and volunteers who are directly involved in CEL programs and initiatives.
LGBTIQ + communities and individuals are extremely diverse and face a number of common and specific health issues and social inclusion. Therefore, CEL understands that members of the LGBTIQ + communities may need support when faced with a wide range of circumstances and emotions.
From issues related to overt exit and discrimination, harassment, violence, anxiety, depression or other health concerns, abuse and other crises, CEL aims to provide the support LGBTIQ + people need.
Thus, through the Support Program, CEL works to ensure that LGBTIQ + persons have access to a safe and non-judgmental space, understand and access psychosocial assistance and legal aid services including: individual support, counseling support groups , family and support groups, Drop-In discussion groups, free legal assistance, housing, and other community resources. In addition to the wide range of activities within the Support Program, CEL provides support and connects LGBTIQ + people to build a support network for sharing experiences. Likewise, the Support Program acts as a pathway to many CEL programs and initiatives.
Program I Capacity Building
Through its Capacity Building Program, CEL works with LGBTIQ + people to enhance their skills, knowledge and confidence. The Capacity Building Program during a transformative learning experience empowers LGBTIQ + people. By providing programs, training and mentoring, and engagement opportunities where they can acquire essential skills, including development and leadership skills, LGBTIQ + persons can become active contributors to LGBTQ + communities in Kosovo and beyond. Moreover, by empowering LGBTIQ + people, we are able to develop communities and influence political processes. CEL also works in partnership with others to build strong, united and influential LGBTIQ + communities. In addition to working with LGBTIQ + people, CEL develops programs and works with young people and other non-LGBTIQ + stakeholders to increase their understanding of LGBTIQ + issues and rights. CEL trains social service providers, government agencies, law enforcement officials, and others, to help them better serve different LGBTIQ + people.
Advocacy and Activation Program
The Advocacy and Activism Program emphasizes efforts across the country to educate, train, encourage and inspire citizens of all genders to grow as voices for change and support for LGBTIQ + communities. By guiding and developing a new generation of LGBTIQ + activists, we are strengthening the LGBTIQ + movement as we educate the public about LGBTIQ + issues, mobilize communities, advance policy initiatives and laws, and work with political leaders and decision-makers throughout Kosovo to improve the legal framework, to promote equality and justice for LGBTIQ + people.
Through its advocacy work and policy-making processes, CEL specifically requires that the voices of LGBTIQ + people be heard and play a key role in shaping and influencing policies and laws affecting them. In this context, CEL works with and collaborates with relevant institutions and stakeholders to ensure that all LGBTIQ + rights are protected, so that LGBTIQ + persons can live meaningful lives.