The Organising Committee of the first BiH Pride March would like to remind the public and the institutions that the Pride March was officially announced on the 1st of April. Since then, the organisers have had regular meetings with representatives of the Sarajevo Canton Interior Ministry and the Police Administration, as well as other relevant institutions. Through these meetings, as the organisers, we have fulfilled and continue to fulfil all the requirements for holding a peaceful gathering as prescribed by the Sarajevo Canton Law on Public Gatherings.
So far we have received unequivocal assurances from both the Cantonal Government and the police that they are capable of providing adequate protection. Furthermore, in all the meetings with the Organising Committee, both the Government and the police have continuously assured us that they have received no intelligence that would in any way jeopardize the holding of the Pride March.
We wish to reiterate that the BiH Pride March is a peaceful protest. The Sarajevo Canton authorities have an obligation to ensure safety in line with the aforementioned law. This obligation was confirmed by the BiH Constitutional Court in its decisions concerning the 2008 Queer Sarajevo Festival and the 2014 Queer Film Festival “Merlinka.” In both cases, the Court determined that the LGBTI persons had been denied freedom of assembly in the Sarajevo Canton.
A groundless ban of the BiH Pride March would constitute a violation of the Sarajevo Canton Law on Public Gatherings, and provide a basis for legal action which would likely result in more sanctions against the Sarajevo Canton Government. The Police and the Sarajevo Canton Interior Ministry have repeatedly demonstrated that they have the professional capacity and resources, as well as sufficient knowledge and experience to oversee the security of events that are far more complex than the BiH Pride March – from sports events and concerts to large commercial events such as the Sarajevo Film Festival. Their representatives have confirmed this in our numerous meetings since April.
We wish to remind the political parties that human rights are protected by our country’s Constitution and laws, which guarantee the freedom of peaceful assembly to all citizens. We believe that political bickering of any kind, and the misuse of the BiH Pride March to serve petty political squabbles, is unacceptable and irresponsible. We will not let political manoeuvring stop us from achieving our goal to enable LGBTI persons to exercise their right to a peaceful gathering and to push the institutions to behave more responsibly towards all citizens.
There is not a single credible reason why this country and this society should fall behind the rest of the region in any respect, including the holding of pride marches. The support we have received from citizens, both in the public and the private spheres, in the past five months has shown that this is a common struggle and that the BiH society is indeed ready to accept and support LGBTI persons.
The Organising Committee of the BiH Pride March will continue to maintain professional cooperation with the institutions of the Sarajevo Canton. Next week we are planning to continue our discussions with the Interior Ministry and the Police, to make sure that the BiH Pride March successfully contributes to the building of an open, inclusive, and free BiH society.
We invite all BiH citizens to join us in Sarajevo on 8 September, to stand together in opposition to the abuse of all our rights to serve political games. Our struggle is a common struggle. Let us stand together in solidarity!