President of Montenegro supported LGBTI community

Jakov Milatović, newly elected President of Montenegro, met on 28 June 2023 with representatives of the LGBTI community and organisations that support them on the occasion of International Day and Pride Month. That was an opportunity to gain insight into the challenges these communities face.

Mr. Milatović clearly stated that Montenegro is a country of equal rights for every citizen and that there shouldn’t be any kind of discrimination. To achieve that, institutional and legal support have to be ensured for every person.

Our colleagues from Juventas, Queer Montenegro, and Stana were among those who met with the President and presented their work.

Annual Enlargement Review on human hights of LGBTI people

ILGA-Europe (LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia) and our colleagues from the LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA), have published their annual Enlargement Review, which outlines the developments in recognising and respecting the human rights of LGBTI people in each enlargement country (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey) from January to December 2021.

The annual LGBTI Enlargement Review acts as an LGBTI submission to the Enlargement Progress Reports of the European Commission. These reports are a detailed annual assessment of the state of play in each candidate country and potential candidate country, outlining what has been achieved over the last year and what remains to be achieved.

This year’s Enlargement Review is published in the context of rising Euroscepticism in the enlargement countries, as well as a significant rise of anti-gender, anti-rights and far-right groups across the region. Misinformation and discriminatory speech against LGBTI people has been spread in public discourse via national broadcasting and political processes, leading to the prevention of the development of laws and policies inclusive of LGBTI people. As a result, despite some welcome significant advancements in the preparation and drafting of legislation to protect the human rights of LGBTI people this year, much of this legislation is currently stalled.

The Annual Enlargement Review recognises that the EU accession process has been a strong driving force for change in the recognition of the human rights of LGBTI people in the region, and it encourages this continued commitment by outlining the laws and policies that are still needed to ensure full and genuine protection of the human rights of LGBTI people, and by providing recommendations to each country’s authorities and to the European Union.

At ILGA-Europe, we hope to see the current legislative gaps closed, in particular regarding family rights, legal gender recognition based on self-determination, and the protection of intersex people’s human rights. With the rise in anti-gender, anti-rights and far-right groups, we renew with increased urgency our call on all countries to properly implement their anti-discrimination, hate crime and hate speech legal frameworks.

To read the report, follow this link>>>.


UN Global standards for business to tackle LGBTI discrimination launched in Belgrade

Violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people cannot be ended by governments alone. Businesses can foster diversity and promote a culture of respect and equality both in the workplace and in the communities where they and their business partners operate.

The global LGBTI equality standards for the business community have been launched today by the UN Country Team in Serbia and the LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA) in partnership with the UN Global Compact in Serbia and the Commissioner for Protection of Equality at the special event with government officials, business representatives, and civil sector.

Launching of the UN Standards in the Republic of Serbia is the first in South-East Europe, after the Standards had been launched in other parts of the World. Serbian is the seventh language in which the Standards are available globally.

© UNCT Serbia/Marko Rupena

In Serbia, Hemofarm AD, Ernst & Young DOO and Erste Bank AD (all members of the UN Global Compact network in Serbia) join the growing list of early adopters.

The Standards of Conduct build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011. They are the product of a year-long process of consultations facilitated by the UN Human Rights Office and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, including regional meetings with leading business representatives and activists in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Drawing on good practices from around the world, these standards set out actions companies can take to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals. These include eliminating workplace discrimination, making sure business operations do not contribute to discrimination against customers, suppliers or members of the public, and working with business partners to address discriminatory practices up and down the supply chain. They also encourage companies to stand up for the rights of LGBTI people in the countries where they operate – including through advocacy and support for local organizations.

The five standards:

  • RESPECT the human rights of their LGBTI workers, customers and members of the public
  • ELIMINATE workplace discrimination against LGBTI employees
  • SUPPORT LGBTI employees at work
  • PREVENT discrimination and related abuses against LGBTI customers, suppliers and distributors – and insist that suppliers do the same
  • STAND UP for the human rights of LGBTI people in the communities where companies do business

UN encourages businesses to no longer be silent in the face of discriminatory treatment of LGBTI people. The power of corporations to shape what the public thinks and wants should be harnessed and used responsibly.

The Standards are available following this link>>>

Life on the Margins

The biggest LGBTI survey ever conducted in the Western Balkans region is finally out and they reveal a collective experience of discrimination, harassment, exclusion and violence. The report analyses the responses of more than 2.300 LGBTI persons across seven countries in the Western Balkans region: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro as well as two European Union member states Croatia and Slovenia. This is the largest data set ever collected on LGBTI rights in our region.

The report “Life on the Margins: Survey Results of the Experience of LGBTI people in South Eastern Europe” was published by the World Bank in partnership with IPSOS Strategic Marketing, ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for the Western Balkans and Turkey, and the Williams Institute at UCLA.

The collective experiences of LGBTI people in the countries surveyed paint a distressing picture of the harmful effects of discrimination, harassment, exclusion and violence. One-third (32%) of all respondents (and 54% of transgender respondents) report having been victims of physical violence in the past five years. Of those cases of violence, only 17% have been reported to the police and action was taken against the perpetrator in only 16% of the most serious cases of violence reported to the police. Discrimination, is even more widespread, considering that 92% of respondents report that discrimination based on sexual orientation is common, 90% because a person is transgender and 67% because a person is intersex.

Among the most important recommendations of this reports are to:

  • Increase and expand the evidence base: researchers, advocates and policymakers should delve further into the available data to inform interventions in each country.
  • The LGBTI data gap remains large, and further research and data collection is necessary to better understand the lived experience of LGBTI people and the challenges they face.
  • Work on awareness raising needs to continue: Sensitization and capacity building programs for public servants should be expanded and strengthened. More needs to be done to increase the rights awareness of LGBTI people. The capacities of LGBTI organizations across the region should be strengthened.
  • A lot more work needs to be done to close the implementation gap: Governments should use the survey findings to identify implementation gaps related to the EU accession process, especially for Chapter 23: judiciary and fundamental rights and chapter 24: justice, freedom and security.
  • Governments should improve the criminal justice response to violence against LGBTI people;
  • Safe spaces should be created for LGBTI persons where they can receive services and support.

To read full report follow this link>>>>

Meeting of two SEE civil society organisations networks

On 5 February 2018, DPNSEE welcomed in our office Amarildo Fecanji, the Executive co-director of the LGBTI Equal Rights Association ERA for an introductory meeting of the two civil society organisations networks of in South East Europe. Vice-President Nebojša Đurasović, Executive Director Milutin Milošević and Communication officer and office manager Irena Molnar represented DPNSEE.

The first contact of two networks happened during the Dialogue between civil society and donors „Averting a health and rights crisis in South Eastern Europe, Building partnership to sustain HIV prevention Services for Key populations“, organised by OSF, where both directors of the networks were presenting their views on possibilities for cooperation at the panel „Bridging the HIV and human rights; how LGBT, sex worker, drug user and PLHIV communities work together to strengthen national and regional advocacy?“. Recognition of the potential for cooperation between the two networks initiated second meeting where we used opportunity to inform each other about activities of both networks and identify areas of common action.

During a pleasant and informative meeting, several areas of join interest were identified as potential for collaboration, including but not limited:

  • Respecting the human rights of the key populations and services offered to vulnerable and discriminated groups
  • Advocating for improving state of access to health of key populations
  • Approaching, together with other SEE COS networks, the DG Near to convince them to extend support to cooperation building in SEE
  • Research and mapping the state of drug use related issues within the LGBTQI communities
  • Advocating for specific programmes related to LGBTQI and drugs such as harm reduction, including chemsex and other.


A dialogue between civil society and donors

The Open Society Foundations convened civil society activists from HIV, harm reduction, sex worker and LGBT communities from South Eastern Europe and health and human rights donors to discuss opportunities for strategic collaboration to sustain HIV prevention services for key populations and facilitate transition to domestic financing of these programs. The half-day meeting was held on 18 January 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The aims of the meeting were:

  • Share examples of civil society advocacy towards domestic financing of HIV services, including efforts to push national governments to commit to provision and financing of services for key populations;
  • Discuss current challenges sustaining programming for key populations in the region with a specific focus on the threats to the human rights movements, programs, and advocates that were directly and indirectly supported by the Global Fund when it was still active in the region;
  • Present examples of how targeted donor support for civil society engagement in transition and sustainability process can bolster government ownership of the HIV response;
  • Discuss strategies and opportunities to address the service gap and enable civil society to navigate the transition process, as well as roles that donors, regional networks and technical agencies can play.

DPNSEE member organisations representatives were panellists: Denis from Margina and Dragos from RHRN presenting situation in Bosnia Herzegovina and Romania, Ivana from Juventas presenting the promising case study of Montenegro and Milutin, together with two other networks (ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey and SWAN – Sex Workers’ Rights Advocacy Network) on possibilities for work together to strengthen national and regional advocacy.

Many organisations were at the list of potential invitees. Finally, around 35 CSO participated. Besides DPNSEE, 9 member organisations were present: Aksion Plus, Margina, Viktorija, Labyrinth, Cazas, Juventas, ARAS, RHRN and Prevent.

The meeting was mainly about presenting situation and needs, with not many questions and comments from the floor. Most of the results were achieved in informal exchanges with other participants. Besides OSF and Global Fund representatives, donors included Embassy of France in Serbia, Mama Cash and Reconstruction Women’s Fund (Serbia). Representatives of other Networks included Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and Eurasian coalition on male Health.

Just after the main meeting of the dialogue, an Informal dialogue on LGBTI and HIV in South-Eastern Europe was organised by the ERA – LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey. Most of the DPNSEE member organisations participated in the meeting that addressed the current work done, gaps and challenges in collaborating towards protecting LGBTI rights and addressing HIV and needs and opportunities for a regional approach and support of this work.

Representatives of the DPNSEE member organisations at the Dialogue