Lahbib promotes LGBTQI+ rights during Balkans visit

Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib (MR) met members of the LGBTI+ community in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo on Wednesday. She is making available 250,000 euros, part of which will go to support equal rights in the conservative country.

Lahbib is on a three-day working visit to the Balkans. Besides meeting political contacts, she also met members of the LGBT community, who – despite the recent adoption of a national action plan – face discrimination in areas such as employment and social rights.

LGBTI+ rights are a priority for Belgian foreign policy, Lahbib made clear during the meeting on Wednesday. The conservative Bosnian minister for Human Rights Sevlid Hurtić was present. He stressed his support for the rights of the LGBTI+ community, but said he would not attend the Gay Pride in Sarajevo in June because of his personal beliefs. 

"Wherever journalism is in danger, truth is in danger"

“I welcome the action plan, but now its implementation is important,” said Lahbib. “This is not straightforward in a conservative society and requires courage and sustained dialogue.”

On the sidelines of the event, Lahbib announced that Belgium was releasing 100,000 euros for SOGI, the unit within the Council of Europe dedicated to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In addition, 150,000 euros will go to a project that fights online and sexual violence against women in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ​

Lahbib also spoke during a panel discussion on press freedom, which is under pressure in the Serb Republic, one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s two political entities. Serb Republic president Milorad Dodik is pushing a new law through parliament that would allow journalists to be prosecuted for libel and defamation. Lahbib called this move alarming. “Wherever journalism is in danger, truth is in danger,” she said.





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