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Montenegro’s historic LGBT conference sends important messages of government commitment and international support

Montenegro’s historic LGBT conference sends important messages of government commitment and international support
Published date 04.09.2011 10:59 | Author Bureau

Ispis Print

• First ever government-sponsored LGBT conference in the Balkans closes in Danilovgrad, Montenegro
• World’s leading experts and scholars specialising in sexual minority rights praise Montenegro’s commitment to equal treatment of LGBT persons
• Conference is not goal in itself, EU’s motto ‘United in Diversity’ is Montenegro’s national credo, says Deputy Prime Minister Marković

Danilovgrad, Montenegro (5 September 2011) – Last weekend, the Montenegrin Government hosted a milestone international conference on the rights of sexual minorities and gender identity, as part of its policy to promote the fight against discrimination and protection of human rights. 

The Conference called “Toward Europe, Toward Equality”, which gathered the world’s leading experts on LGBT rights, Western diplomats, guests from the region, human rights defenders and Montenegro’s senior state officials and civil servants, was repeatedly described as historic by its participants, for being the first government-sponsored LGBT event in the Balkans.

The event was aimed to create a forum of understanding of the importance of Pride parades to the LGBT community, including how such a parade could be successfully organised in Montenegro, provide training in LGBT rights and LGBT sensitivity to judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials, and create public awareness and dialogue about LGBT issues. 
Over the course of two days, prominent international speakers and panellists welcomed the Government’s initiative and Montenegro’s leadership role in the Balkans regarding LGBT human rights protection. The participants, both local and international, described the Conference as a landmark event paving the way to the full protection of LGBT human rights in Montenegro. At the same time, they stressed that the Conference alone is not enough, but that more needs to be done in the area of implementing and upgrading existing legislation to ensure society-wide support towards this end. 

Deputy Prime Minister Duško Markovic stressed that the Conference was not a goal in itself and that the EU’s supranational motto “United in Diversity” stands as Montenegro’s national credo. The DPM pledged the Government’s commitment to common European values and strong determination to fully uphold equal rights for the LGBT population. His views were echoed in the speeches of Minority Minister Ferhat Dinosha and other Montenegrin officials.

The Conference announced that Montenegro has been chosen as the first beneficiary of the Council of Europe’s major multinational project aimed at LGBT rights protection, in recognition of the country’s commitment to tackle the Europe-wide problem of discrimination against LGBT person. 

The participants expressed their regret that a group of human rights NGOs in Montenegro decided to boycott the event, underlining that dialogue is the only way to resolve the LGBT rights issue. The government officials recognised the NGOs’ important role in promoting sexual minority rights and highlighted the importance of the government and the civil society working hand in hand towards this common goal. 

The main challenges for the entire region were identified in the lack of proper enforcement of legislation and the lack of knowledge in that respect among the law enforcement and judicial institutions, as well as the relatively low level of education on LGBT human rights in general. It was also noted by many speakers that this is not a Balkan-specific issue, but one found in many democracies, and that ensuring equal human rights for all is a global challenge. 

The Conference was organised by the Government of Montenegro, in cooperation with the International Academic Conference Justice in the Balkans: Equality for Sexual Minorities, The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law in the United States, the Lund University Department of Sociology of Law in Lund, Sweden, and the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law (ECSOL). Financial support was provided by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade. 

For more details about the Conference, including the videos of the speeches and presentations delivered at the event, please visit: 

The Conference hashtag on Twitter is #MNE4LGBT