Towards structured measures aiming for equality of LGBTI people in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Jahorina 20 December 2019
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Towards structured measures aiming for equality of LGBTI people in Bosnia and Herzegovina

People belonging to the LGBTI community should have access to same rights as any other citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), such as education, health, decent family environment, employment, to exercise freedom of assembly, to visit their loved ones if they are hospitalised in intensive care and many more. All this should function without discrimination or verbal/physical violence. Right now, in BiH there is still room for improvement when it comes to exercising rights of LGBTI people!

In order to improve this, ministries/institutions from the state level, Federation of BiH, Republika Srpska and Brcko District nominated their representatives to be part of the working group developing LGBTI Action plan. On 18th December 2019, the first meeting of the working group was held in Jahorina, discussing the methodology of developing a joint LGBTI action plan in BiH. One of the key guidelines for its development will be Council of Europe’s recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. During discussion, especially welcome was the active participation of civil society representatives.

What is it like to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex person in BiH? What are consequences of being different in the society where sexual orientation and gender identity is still taboo? What are existing protection mechanisms for the protection of LGBTI persons in place? These are some of the questions raised during the thematic discussion held a day before, on 17th December, for the working group participants. Broadening their understanding of LGBTI issues in BiH was important in order for them to use this gained knowledge in their work when coming across issues concerning sexual minorities, but also to adequately reflect it in the drafting the Action plan aiming to improve the state of this minority group.

Saša Leskovac from the Gender Equality Agency, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees BiH said: “The event was well-conceived, a combination of training on LGBTI rights and a concrete first preparatory meeting of the working group to develop an action plan for LGBTI rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. He also added that “…a major step has been made towards the development of a strategic document that will allow a co-ordinated approach to improve the situation of LGBTI persons in BiH society.

One of the messages of this activity was: LGBTI rights are not special rights, LGBTI rights are human rights!

These activities were jointly organised by the Gender Equality Agency, Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees BiH and by the Council of Europe, as part of the European Union and the Council of Europe’s Action “Promotion of diversity and equality in BiH”. This Action is financed by the European Union and Council of Europe through the joint programme “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey II”.

What is the Horizontal Facility II?

The European Union/Council of Europe Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey (Horizontal Facility II) 2019-2022 is a co-operation initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe for the Western Balkans and Turkey. It is one of the results of the Statement of Intent signed on 1 April 2014 by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the European Union Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, in which both Organisations agreed to further strengthen their co-operation in key areas of joint interest.

The first phase of the programme included various Beneficiary-specific and regional initiatives and ran from 2016 to 2019. The second phase of the programme (worth €41 million between 2019 and 2022) keeps building on the results of the phase I and broadens the thematic areas to new topics crucial for the Western Balkans region and Turkey – freedom of expression and media.

The second phase of the programme covers Actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Turkey and the regional dimension of the programme is strengthened. The Expertise Co-ordination Mechanism that provides legislative expertise and policy advice within the Council of Europe system remains an important part of the programme available to all Beneficiaries.


How long will the Horizontal Facility II last?

The Horizontal Facility is a three-year programme, which is being implemented by the Council of Europe from May 2019 over a period of 36 months. 


How much will the Horizontal Facility II cost?

The envelope of this facility amounts to ca. 41 Million EUR (85% funded by the EU, 15% by the CoE).


What will the Horizontal Facility II do?

The Horizontal Facility enables the Beneficiaries to meet their reform agendas in the fields of human rights, rule of law and democracy and to comply with the European standards, including where relevant within the framework of the EU enlargement process. The Horizontal Facility relies on the Council of Europe’s unique working methods, whereby tailor-made technical co-operation activities are based on conclusions and recommendations of the Council of Europe’s monitoring bodies highlight areas where improvements are needed in legislation and policies of the Beneficiaries to comply with the Organisation’s treaties and other standards.

Themes covered by the Horizontal Facility include:

  • Ensuring justice;
  • Fighting economic crime;
  • Combating discrimination and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups (including LGBTI, minorities and Roma) and
  • Freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

All the themes are key priorities of the two Organisations in the Western Balkans region and Turkey.

All Horizontal Facility actions address cross-cutting issues such as gender mainstreaming, protection of minorities and vulnerable groups and foresees the engagement of civil society organisations in the implementation of the Horizontal Facility.

This website has been produced using funds of a Joint Project between the European Union and the Council of Europe. The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union or the Council of Europe.

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.