May 17 marks the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) flies the rainbow flag at its headquarters in Pristina to show support and call for equality, justice, and inclusion for all people regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.
To mark the day, the Head of EULEX, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said: “Kosovo has seen legal progress for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights in recent years, including two landmark decisions in the area of civil registration for transgender persons. However, we would like to see an adequate and consistent implementation of relevant legal provisions, as well as broader civil rights for Kosovo’s LGBTI community.”
Despite the progress made, many persons still remain at risk of discrimination, hate and violence. EULEX closely monitors cases of abuse and discrimination against vulnerable persons, in particular against members of the LGBTI community, and provides recommendations to Kosovo’s justice institutions on how to improve the handling of such cases and ensure that LGBTI victims of discrimination and hate crime are recognized and protected.
“Phobias, discrimination, prejudice, and hate have no place in our societies. In Kosovo and across the EU, authorities have to step up their efforts to promote full enjoyment of human rights by LGBTI persons. We will continue to advocate for the respect of human rights for all, irrespective of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics,” Wigemark said.
Regarding the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on LGBTI persons, the Head of EULEX highlighted that pre-existing inequalities and discrimination could be deepened, as LGBTI persons may end up being confined in a hostile environment because of stay-at-home restrictions, thus increasing their exposure to different types of violence.
EULEX will continue to work together with Kosovo’s rule of law institutions, civil society organizations, and international partners to advance the human rights of people with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, protect LGBTI people from all forms of violence and discrimination, build a more inclusive society based on the values of equality and tolerance, and ensure equal access to justice.