Saturday’s attack on the members of the Organizing Committee of BiH Pride March and LGBTIQ community members were hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It is important to emphasize that the police came before the attack to the premises where we, as members of BiH Pride March wished to take shelter in a secret location to be safe. The police chased us out of the privately owned building and told us that we can’t even be there and that we are not safe anywhere, that we should disperse because they have information that hooligans know where we are. He emphasized that we are not safe anywhere and that we should leave Banja Luka immediately. The police methodically placed us in front of the building, left us unprotected in the middle of the street, and they left with a police car. Five minutes later they returned and parked under the building when a few moments later a group of between 30 and 40 thugs/hooligans came behind them. The police were there and did nothing, but allowed the violence.

This was an organized attack for which the police of Banja Luka, and political officials especially the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, and the mayor of the city of Banja Luka, Draško Stanivuković, are responsible as they incited and called for a ban on our existence. We were delivered to the hooligans by the police.

We have to emphasize to the public and everyone who tries to present false and distorted information – no, we did not plan on having the pride march and no there was no organized gathering. The banned event we were supposed to organize was canceled and we were nowhere near that location.

Members of BiH Pride March are not only from Sarajevo, nor from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, members come from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which includes citizens of Banja Luka and other cities of the Republika Srpska entity.

In accordance with all the above, we emphasize that the LGBTIQ community in Banja Luka and throughout the Republika Srpska entity, after the inciting statements of officials and the lack of protection by the police, is currently exposed to the risk of violence, and has been targeted.

We demand that security be raised to the highest level so that the LGBTIQ community in Banja Luka and the Republika Srpska entity receive the necessary protection because LGBTIQ people exist throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and will continue to exist. Hooligans and bullies are the ones who need to be sanctioned urgently, it is the violence that needs to be stopped, not the existence of LGBTIQ people.

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