“They erase us, like we don’t exist”: LGBTI people tell of struggle and resilience in the Western Balkans

Dec 8, 2017

A new platform, OutSpoken, goes live as country profiles show enduring violence, discrimination, stigma and exclusion of LGBTI people in the region.

Istanbul, 8 December – A new series of video testimonies explores what it is like to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) in the Western Balkans. 

Recounting tales of suffering, discrimination and violence, as well as triumph and resilience, the diverse cast of OutSpoken explain how their identities shape all aspects of their lives, from family relationships and going out at night, to daily activities and professional life. Though they have diverse sexual orientations and gender identities, their personal accounts act as powerful reminders of the violence, discrimination and stigma many LGBTI people endure, as well as the importance of protecting LGBTI rights.

“Despite some positive steps, much remains to be done. Marginalization in the workplace, violence in the family, classroom bullying and exclusionary laws still persist and must end. Discrimination starts early and runs deep,” said Rosemary Kumwenda, HIV and Health Team Leader at UNDP’s Istanbul Regional Hub.

With OutSpoken, UNDP marks both the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign and International Human Rights Day. Through its powerful stories, the platform aims to address the violence and discrimination faced by LGBTI people and illuminate our shared humanity.

The stories are now live on http://www.outspoken.undp.org.


Country profiles

Coinciding with the launch of OutSpoken, UNDP - with the support of USAID - has published country profiles documenting the lived realities and challenges facing LGBTI people in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

According to the four new country profiles, public attitudes are still mostly intolerant.  For example, in Albania 92 percent of survey respondents declared that they would not interact with LGBTI people.  In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 23.5 percent of the respondents stated that they had experienced violence based on their gender expression or sexual identity.  In Serbia, 70 percent of LGBTI people interviewed stated that they had been exposed to psychological violence and harassment.

The new country profiles call for immediately ending all violence and discriminatory practices against LGBTI people, institutionalizing legal recognition while repealing punitive laws, ensuring hate crimes are prosecuted, and multiplying the channels of advocacy to trigger profound changes in attitudes.  They offer state institutions, civil society and LGBTI advocates recommendations on how to further make progress in these areas.

The reports are available here.

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