Pristina, 15 May 2014 – The European Union funded twinning project Fight against Homophobia and Transphobia was officially launched today, in a conference organised under the auspices of the Kosovo Office on Good Governance and in cooperation with the Austrian Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare.
The conference gathered stakeholders from the Kosovo government, the European Union, civil society institutions, international organisations and EU member States’ embassies, who were presented with an outline of this two-year project. The project tackles homophobia as one face of discrimination, emanating from biased attitudes in society that lead to exclusion and hostility and create a severe obstacle for people to fully enjoy their human rights.
Minister for European Integration, Vlora Çitaku said: “This issue is not only about individuals, a particular group or only about institutions. Protection off and respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law, non-discriminatory expressions are principles of a society and therefore by respecting them together we would guarantee a better life for all citizens of Kosovo.”
Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Petrit Selimi said: “The Republic of Kosovo has at its core the Constitution which is the guarantor of individual rights and sexual orientation is one of the constitutional identity categories. LGBT community has been marginalized and discriminated against, but in recent years the government has made progress in raising awareness on the need for the protection of the LGBT rights.”
Christof Stock, Head of Cooperation, EU Office in Kosovo, said: “Tolerance, diversity and understanding are core European values and they make EU what it is. Kosovo people have to embrace these values if they want to progress in EU integrations. We commend the Kosovo government for initiatives in promoting and protecting LGBT rights.”
Fiona Steinert, project leader from Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights, said: “If an inclusive society based on equal rights shall become reality, society can not allow any part of its members being humiliated, excluded, bodily harmed or forced into self-denial. Equal treatment as a professional attitude can only be achieved if we acknowledge that humans are normally different.”
Habit Hajredini, the director of the Office on Good Governance at the Prime Minister’s Office said: “This twinning project is offering capacity building to Kosovo authorities, especially to the police, judiciary, educators and media. The close cooperation of all relevant stakeholders and the support of the newly established national Advisory and Coordination Group for the Rights of the LGBT community (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) will be needed throughout the implementation period and beyond it, in order to make the project a success. This high attendance in the conference is a very encouraging signal.”
The meeting preceded this year’s marking of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17 May 2014. On this occasion, the Kosovo government, civil society organisations, embassies and international organisations will raise the rainbow flag as a symbol of tolerance, diversity and respect for human rights.
The International Day against Homophobia was created in 2004 to draw the attention of policymakers, opinion leaders, social movements, the public and the media to the violence and discrimination experienced by LGBT people internationally. Since then the Day has grown in both scope and depth. In 2009, Transphobia was added to the name of the campaign, and activities that year focused primarily on transphobia (violence and discrimination against transgender people). In 2013, actions around the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia took place in almost 120 countries.