CEMI joins boycott of conference, protests state stance on gay rights

August 31, 2011

News sourceThe Monitoring Center – CEMI, Montenegro

The Monitoring Center – CEMI has added its name to a list of civil society groups and other NGOs that are refusing to participate in a state-sponsored international human-rights conference being held in Montenegro in September. The boycott is a protest against the Montenegrin government’s failure to adopt an anti-homophobia “Action Plan.”

“In this way, we further protest against the relation of the Government towards domestic civil society and the lack of track record in improvement of the situation of lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered (LGBT) population,” according a statement signed by organizations joining the boycott.

Senior state officials, members of the diplomatic corps, prominent international experts, scholars and human rights advocates from throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada will meet in Danilovgrad, Montenegro, 2-5 September for  “Toward Europe, Toward Equality.”

But CEMI and the other NGOs boycotting the event say the conference will consist of discussion of reforms that should already be in place. They say the government has refused to adopt  reforms – including greater protection from anti-gay violence - recommended by a coalition of Montenegrin human-rights groups.

Following is the full text of the protesters’ statement and a list of the signers and their organizations:

The Government of Montenegro (the Government) will organize from 2 – 5th of September this year an international conference and training entitled “Towards Europe – Towards Equality”. The undersigned organizations will not take part at this conference. In this way, we further protest against the relation of the Government towards domestic civil society and the lack of track record in improvement of the situation of LGBT population.

In recent years, civil society and independent media have been extremely committed to LGBT rights. The Government’s decision to ignore the civil sector when designing policies or activities aiming to improve the situation of LGBT persons raised additional concerns. In particular, we are taking into account that the Government has not adopted the initiated Action Plan to combat homophobia (AP) developed by the Coalition “Together for LGBT Rights”, in whose drafting representatives of its ministries also took part. AP, proposed in April this year, is fully in compliance with the Recommendation CM / Rec (2010) 5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to the member states on measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Instead of initiating the work on implementing all or at least some of the proposed measures, the Government convenes a three days long conference in which are to be re-discussed topics that should be already widely implemented.

We remind that during this year NGOs have organized several international and national events in which the situation of LGBT population was carefully considered and the position of the LGBT persons assessed. These events addressed to the accurate and constructive recommendations that the Government has not seriously considered.

Measure of the resistance of the Government to provide equal opportunities for the discriminated minority in our society is reflected in the fact that the acknowledgement of many of these recommendations did not require additional resources, but only the expression of political will which was lacking.

During this year, it was not possible to register the facts that will point to the visible results of the state in establishing a sustainable antidiscrimination policy and practice of improving the human rights of LGBT persons. On the other hand, there are numerous examples in which the Government failed to support argument based needs and requirements. We remind that until this moment the Government has not adopted any strategic decision aimed at improving the position of LGBT population, despite the fact that several frameworks were offered on multiple occasion. The Government refused to appoint the appropriate political level of its representative in the Organization Committee of the Pride Parade who would take part and address the participants of Pride after the walk. Police did not identify who endangered 600 participants of the organized concert marking the International Day Against Homophobia. Prosecutor’s Office has not prosecuted numerous examples of violence against LGBT population and activists. For already a year legal proceedings against discrimination are pending even though the law treats these as priority.

Not a single textbook, although new edition is developed this year, has any sentence about the existence of LGBT rights and LGBT persons. There was also no support to a number of LGBT initiatives and programs.

In the work of the Government continues to work the Minister for Human and Minority Rights who has repeatedly refused to affirm sexual minorities, contrary to the standards and recommendations of the Council of Europe and the European Union.

Our decision not to participate at this conference, as previously at the trainings organized by the Ministry of Human Rights, prepared by the principle of discrimination of prominent experts and activists for LGBT rights in Montenegro, is nothing but a reminder that the government needs to fulfill the obligations and promises to LGBT population, domestic and international standards and the international community to urgently concrete acts that demonstrate the readiness of the real improvement of difficult position of LGBT persons in Montenegro.

We note that the Conference and training represent the third phase of Government’s operation for obtaining the positive opinion of the EC, upon the formation of the Council for Fight against Discrimination and appointment of special advisers against discrimination. It is obvious that in just one month, the Government is trying to demonstrate the political will before the international community without real concern for the discriminated group followed with the total absence of communication with them.

Our strong and intensive cooperation will be possible after the Government does the following:
1.    Replace the Minister of Human and Minority Rights Ferhat Dinosa;
2.    Adopts the Action plan against homophobia on the basis of the draft created by the coalition “Together for LGBT Rights” and provide the conditions necessary for its implementation in cooperation with the NGO sector;
3.    Provide political support for the organization of “Pride Parade” and meet the requirements for its organization (ensuring participation in the Pride and public speech of the Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Prime Minister);
4.    Establish institutional cooperation with NGOs involved in protecting the rights of LGBT people in Montenegro and provide assistance to their work;
5.    Prosecute and punish all examples of violence and hatred against LGBT population and disruption of social life of the LGBT community.

Under these conditions, we publicly reaffirm our commitment to provide full support and partnership with the Government. The undersigned NGOs want principle based, effective and strategic-oriented cooperation, and refuse to help ignorance of the fact, postponing of the decision and covering up the actual state of affairs for the sake of getting the date of negotiations.

Statement signed by:
For the “LGBT Forum Progress” – Zdravko Cimbaljevic, Executive Director
For “Juventas” – Ivana Vujovic, President of the Board of Directors
For the “Centre for Civic Education” – Daliborka Uljarevic, Executive Director
For the “Montenegrin Women’s Lobby” – Aida Petrovic, Coordinator
For the SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Podgorica – Biljana Zekovic, Executive Director
For the “Action for Human Rights” – Tea Gorjanc Prelevic, Executive Director
For the “Centre for Anti-discrimination” EQUISTA “- Milan Saranovic, Director
For “Expeditio” Kotor – Biljana Gligoric, Executive Director
For the “Centre for Development of NGOs” – Ana Novakovic, executive Director
For the “Shelter” – Ljiljana Raicevic, Director
For the “Monitoring Center” – Mr. Zlatko Vujovic, President of the Board of Directors
For the SOS Hotline for Women and Children Victims of Violence Niksic – Nada Koprivica, Coordinator
For the “Institute Alternative” – Stevo Muk, President of the Board of Directors
For  “Center for women and peace education ANIMA”  Kotor – Ljupka Kovacevic, Coordinator
For the “European Movement in Montenegro” – Momcilo Radulovic, Secretary General
For the “Montenegrin Alternative Culture” – Maja Bakic, executive director
For the “Roma Scholarship Foundation – Institute of Social Inclusion” – Biljana Alkovic, Director.

 

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