LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey

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09 Mar

On March 4th, staff and visitors of Art Cinema Kriterion in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina were victims of a homophobic attack. Four young men stormed into the cinema shouting homophobic slurs and threats, throwing bottles, glasses etc. One young man has sustained severe injuries and one girl was physically attacked while around thirty people who were present in Kriterion at the time were subjected to grave psychological harassment. The perpetrators also threatened to throw a bomb in case members of Kriterion’s staff called the police.
Sarajevo Open Centre and other human rights organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina report with concern that this is not the first case of organized hate attacks in the country’s capital, recalling the homophobic attack which took place also in Art Cinema Kriterion on February 1st 2014. They are also concerned that just like on that occasion law enforcement authorities will not prosecute the attackers and that this will further convince perpetrators that attacks on free and open spaces against civilians are permissible.
Organizations in the country also added with concern that media reports described the motive of the attack as unknown and that the incident was characterised as violent behaviour while the four attackers were arrested by the police and were set free after giving their statements.
ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association joins the call of civil society organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina in calling on state institutions of Bosnia & Herzegovina to clearly call this act a hate crime on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is unacceptable that even in such open cases of open hate crimes the police states that the motive of the case is unknown.
Dragana Todorovic, Executive Director at ERA stated that: “This is a clear example of how we need to push end emphasize the need for adequate hate crime legislation in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries of the region. State institutions must adequately address hate crimes and should not fail to protect victims. We are in full solidarity with the LGBTI community and their supporters in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we call on state institutions to act on such cases and effectively protect LGBTI people from violence and harassment.”

Country - Bosnia and Herzegovina