Realizing LGBT rights in Kosovo – Kosovo Government Conference
Following May 17th – the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Kosovo, the Office of Good Governance of the Prime Minister in cooperation with Non-Governmental Organizations dealing with community (LGBT) right protection and promotion: Center for Social Emancipation (QESh), Center for Equality and Liberty (CEL) and Center for Social Group Development (CSGD), organized the conference with the topic “LGBT community rights fulfillment in the Republic of Kosovo”.
The conference aimed at increasing the awareness of institutional stakeholders and general public in protection and enforcement of community rights (LGBT) in compliance with the legislation in force with the aim of creating a tolerant society with equal opportunities, equal treatment and non-discrimination.
Habit Hajredini, the Director of the Office on Good Governance, in his opening speech talked about the one year action plan for the Advisory and Coordination Group for the Rights of the LGBT people in Kosovo, and for the importance of this group in monitoring and realizing the rights of the LGBT people in Kosovo. Agim Margilaj, the co-chair of the Advisory Group spoke about the activities that marked this day in Pristina and also about the discriminatory behaviour he faced when trying to register the event with the Municipality of Prishtina.
The conference was greeted by a short video message by Ms. Ulrike Lunacek, special rapporteur of the European Parliament for Kosovo, also a longstanding supporter of the cause and the community itself in Kosovo.
The conference was addressed by Mr. Samuel Zbogar, the Head of the EU office in Kosovo, Mr .Ramadan Ilazi – The Deputy Minister of European Integration, Mr .Rexhep Hoti - The Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Anne Meskannen - Finnish Ambasador, Robert Bosch - Dutch Ambasador, Chris Edwards –Deputy Head of Mission USAID, Saskia Salzmann - Swiss Embassy representative, Rajmonda Sylbije – Director of NGO CEL.
“I congratulate the members of the LGBTI community and civil society activists for the tremendous courage they have shown over the last year.” Mr. Zbogar said as he looked back at the cause progressing. “I invite you to be courageous and take concrete action to give the principle of equality guaranteed by the Kosovo Constitution a real meaning. Speak up rather than cover up!” he added.
Along the same lines Ambassador Anne Meskanen on her words of encouragement said “I personally stand shoulder to shoulder with you LGBTI friends on your quest to human rights, and I invite you all to do the same.”
Many other participants coming from Kosovo institutions and from civil society contributed to the conference by committing to further advance the issue of realization of LGBT rights in Kosovo. Representatives of Kosovo’s Public Institutions committed to make their human and financial resources available for a successful implementation of the EU Twinning Project ‘Against Homophobia and Transpohobia’ in Kosovo, while the civil society representatives called for a pro-active approach by the Kosovo institutions.