By Amila Mehinagić
Sexuality is a very hard and controversial topic to talk about in the Balkan countries. When it comes to people finding their identities throughout sexuality, they often get confused and scared because of prejudice in our communities and the justice system does not make it any easier for them. Yesterday, when we talked about this topic in the Project on Peacebuilding, we got deeper into the nuances of the subject. For example, both male and female same-sex sexual activity became legal in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996. However, same-sex marriage is still illegal and people who declare themselves as LGBTQ are constantly in the shadows because they are considered to be different.
Although the anti-discrimination law was implemented in the Bosnia legal system in June of 2016, there have been no visible changes in Bosnian society. Bosnian society is a hierarchy: on top is the muscular heterosexual cis-man and at the bottom are the minorities, which get punished without any reason. The anti-discrimination law has not really changed the minds of Bosnians and has not protected the rights of LGBTQ people in Bosnia.
In my critical opinion, there is not enough education in Bosnia considering sexuality and there are many prejudice towards the LGBTQ community. Bosnia is a very “macho” culture. Heterosexuals feel offended when they see a gay man because men are idealized to be “macho,” so they consider gay men to be traitors. Sometimes this results in anger or attacking them physically or verbally. Lesbian couples also get a lot of hate because they are not considered to be normal by some people. One of the reasons is that religion has a big part in shaping people’s opinions about same-sex marriage in Bosnia. Because of all of the above, LGBTQ people live in fear and sometimes hide their true identity.
To be honest, it is very difficult to educate elderly people because they are very traditional and it may be difficult to change their thinking. But we can shape the minds of young people so they are more open-minded. It is the 21st century after all—if we can manage that, then we are in a right path in supporting equal rights for all.