Astraea Supports Anti-Violence Organizing in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice stands in solidarity with our grantee partners around the globe that continue to have the courage to stand up against human rights violations, homophobia, and transphobia everywhere. We stand in solidarity with the anti-violence and anti-hate speech work of LGBTQI groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Colorful Network, Organization Okvir, and Astraea grantee partner Organization Q.

Verbal harassment and hate speech against LGBTQI people persists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatening the safety of individuals and communities at large. Less than 4 years ago, organizers of the 1st Queer Sarajevo Festival were met with death threats and physical attacks from a hostile section of the public, leaving eight people injured at the end of the first day. Later, festival organizers were told by police that they would have to pay exorbitant costs for private security to be allowed to hold the events.

Just recently, on April 19th, a group of students at University of Sarajevo, including members of Organization Q and the Colorful Network made a public stand against the explicit and implicit discriminatory practice of the public Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Institute prohibits LGBTQI people from donating blood on the basis of their sexual or gender identity. During the blood drive a lesbian came out when trying to donate blood and was met with verbal and physical harassment and hate speech. In solidarity, the Astraea Foundation has signed onto a statement by the Colorful Network demanding a stop to homophobia in public institutions. ??

Physical attacks and hate speech are unacceptable, especially when promoted by public employees and unchallenged by public educational institutions & their governments. The safety of LGBTQI communities cannot remain solely in the hands of LGBTQI community members alone. The attacks at the Public Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and at the 1st Queer Sarajevo Festival are not isolated incidences of hate violence. We are encouraged by the courageous and visible responses from lesbian activists in the country and region, and call on allies to take a stand against institutional discrimination.

Read more about the incident at Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Colorful Network’s statement.