Bosnia takes first small step towards recognising same-sex relationships

Bosnia and Herzegovina's first-ever Pride parade

Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country with a poor record on LGBT+ rights, has taken its first small step towards recognising same-sex relationships.

While in recent years Bosnia has been moving in the right direction — 2016 saw the country ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity — there is still no recognition of same-sex relationships, and safety remains a concern for queer people.

A 2017 survey conducted by the Sarajevo Open Centre found that safety is a huge concern for LGBT+ people in Bosnia. Around 69 per cent feel unsafe attending public events or being in public spaces, while 32 per cent of gay men and 17 per cent of lesbians have experienced violence because of their sexual orientation.

But according to Balkan Insight, one of the country’s two semi-autonomous political entities, The Federation, will soon draft legislation to regulate the rights of same-sex couples for the first time.

Bosnia instructs working group to meet with LGBT+ organisations.

The Federation has approved an interdepartmental working group to produce the legislation, and Sead Lisak, chair of the group, said it will hold its first session this month.

The group was created following demands from same-sex couples who had registered their partnerships abroad. Its first session will involve meetings with LGBT+ rights organisations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's first-ever Pride parade

LGBT activists raise their fists and hold signs and rainbow flags as they march through Sarajevo city centre, on September 8, 2019, during Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first-ever Pride parade, which had to be protected by 1,000 police officers. (ELVIS BARUKCIC/AFP via Getty)

Although it’s a small step, it represents a huge leap for Bosnia, where any public support for LGBT+ rights has historically been met with extreme violence.

Last year the country held its first-ever Pride parade, and more than 1,000 police officers were called in to protect the event. 

The event received overwhelming criticism from religious groups and politicians, and there were anti-gay counter-protests on the day of the event and before.

Deputy of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Samra Cosovic-Hajdarevic, previously said the march was a “terrible” idea aimed at “destroying the state and its people”.

She said LGBT+ people should be “isolated and moved as far as possible from our children and society”.