Arkivi i Lëvizjes LGBTI+ në Kosovë

Statement for the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia

April 4, 2024

May 22, 2020
On May 17, both in Kosovo and worldwide, the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) is observed to emphasize the dignity of all individuals, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

Observing this day is a moment that seeks to draw the attention of the public, decision-makers, local authorities, media, and opinion leaders to the injustices and challenges faced by LGBTI individuals, with the hope of bringing about social, economic, and political justice.

Over the years, government and public institutions in Kosovo have taken some positive steps and endeavored to address certain human rights issues, including the rights of LGBTI people.

According to the World Bank’s research on the experiences of LGBTI individuals in the Western Balkans, published in September 2018, the Kosovo Police enjoys the highest level of trust among LGBTI people compared to other institutions. In 2019, Kosovo’s courts made two very important decisions in favor of transgender individuals regarding the right to change their name and gender/sex in civil registries and public documents. The Ombudsperson’s Institution in recent years has been more vocal in promoting LGBTI rights and addressing cases of discrimination against these individuals. Additionally, the Good Governance Office within the Office of the Prime Minister has developed a three-year work plan aimed at promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people in Kosovo. The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with civil society organizations, has been offering various necessary and specific healthcare services for LGBTI individuals for years. Also, in some of its sectoral strategy plans, this ministry has included LGBTI individuals as designated groups for the provision of healthcare services, equally as for other groups in society.

Despite these positive steps that have taken place, we cannot say that LGBTI people enjoy equal rights with other citizens of Kosovo. Even though the Constitution of Kosovo, existing laws, sub-legal acts, as well as the strategies or work plans of Kosovo’s government and public institutions guarantee equal rights for all, in practice, these rights are unfortunately not respected in the majority of cases. In Kosovo, hate speech, hate crime, workplace discrimination, bullying in schools against students, and verbal and physical violence by family members, based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, still prevail.

For all of us, there is still much work to be done to combat homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. In many places in Kosovo, LGBTI people are forced to deny and hide who they really are, for fear of persecution and the possibility of being victims of verbal or physical violence.

The COVID-19 pandemic, besides having unexpected effects on everyone’s daily lives, has particularly affected LGBTI individuals even more. Due to the state of emergency and measures restricting movement and isolation, many young LGBTI people have been forced to return and live with their families, from which they have distanced themselves because they might not have been accepted due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Due to this lack of acceptance, there is a risk that some of them may remain homeless, which could also lead to unemployment. The obligation to stay isolated within a family that does not accept an LGBTI person has increased cases of domestic violence. Also, these individuals, due to the impossibility of meeting their supporters, have remained alone, without any support, and this could lead to mental health problems.

Due to the pandemic and border closures, transgender individuals have no access to hormonal therapy and other health services related to transitioning, health services that are not offered in Kosovo. According to WHO and European Commission guidelines, continuous provision of therapy is included in essential health services for the transgender community.

CSGD and CEL believe that leaders in Kosovo, whether politicians, civil society members, or media executives, have a duty to lead Kosovo toward a democratic and liberal order. A fully democratic order is one that abandons hate politics and intolerance; it is one that abandons unfair discrimination against any group, both during normal conditions and during emergencies like the present one.

We encourage decision-makers, political leaders, the media, and the public to contribute to the advancement of the rights of people affected by violence and discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. We encourage the Government of Kosovo to develop policies that will protect its citizens from domestic violence, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We encourage law enforcement and the judiciary to be committed to protecting the rights of LGBTI individuals in accordance with Kosovo legislation, which would create a safe and inclusive environment for all citizens of Kosovo, without discrimination.