Bosnia & Herzegovina held the country's first LGBT pride parade peacefully on September 8 as police were out in large number to prevent any incidents. A day earlier, opponents of the pride march held a separate demonstration.
LGBT people in Bosnia have not been allowed until now to hold a pride parade and have complained for years that crimes based on their sexual orientation have not been investigated and in most cases were left without consequences.
The first parade was attended by thousands, going beyond the organisers’ expectations that only around 500 people would participate.
It was backed by the international community with many members of the EU delegation to Bosnia, as well as many western ambassadors joining to show support.
“Instead of the expected 500 we are more than 2000 demonstrating for equality, freedom and diversity in Sarajevo today,” MEP Terry Reintke who attended the parade LGBT and alternative lifestyles in general remain a very difficult subject for the people of the whole former socialist bloc, where a large majority of citizens retain conservative values rooted in the Orthodox Church or Islam. Homophobia and even random violent attacks on gays are widespread and common. Discrimination is institutional and few countries have adopted anti-hate speech laws or legislation to support same-sex partnerships.
bne IntelliNews argued in the op-ed “The 50-year fight for gay rights” that it will take at least two generations for most of the countries in Emerging Europe and Eurasia to take on board the liberal values of the west, however, a start has been made and the gay pride marches in the region are a useful barometer of how much progress has already been made.