Freedom, in the broadest sense, means the ability to act autonomously and make independent decisions; it enables a person or a group to live authentically and safely, regardless of any external or internal pressures.

It is often the desire for freedom that serves as an impetus for revolutions and social justice struggles. A free life thus also means freedom from violence. That is because a free life begins when we have protection and safety, when we are free from violence, when we can make independent decisions about our body and gender expression, when we can build partnerships without fear, when we can be out and feel pride, and not the fear that someone will attack, harass or condition us.

To progress and move closer to a freer and more authentic life, it is extremely important to recognise and raise awareness about the existence of various forms of violence. That is why we must continuously speak out and fight against the ubiquitous violence that surrounds us.

Violence can leave long-term psycho-physical consequences; therefore, it is crucial to encourage open communication about it and to take steps to protect survivors and prevent future violence. An open dialogue about violence promotes awareness and the necessary social changes that aspire to a freer and safer life for all.

The Fifth BiH Pride March addresses the theme of violence against LGBTIQ+ people in Bosnia and Herzegovina; it aims to inform society about the ways in which violence affects the daily free and authentic life of LGBTIQ+ people. Sadly, violence as a theme always emerges in the context of safety of LGBTIQ+ people, while safety and safe spaces for the community, but also for each person individually, are necessary for a life of dignity. Violence jeopardises security, leads to various forms of discrimination and narrows safe (both public and private) spaces where LGBTIQ+ people feel comfortable and free. Violence leaves long-lasting consequences on a person and society, and these consequences are visible in all future actions of the person. The consequences of violence continue to manifest throughout life through anxiety, fear, withdrawal, closure, mistrust, diminishing of persons’ capacity and potential, and they affect everything that the person could have been if they had not had to carry the burden of trauma and fear.

BiH society is saturated with the culture and legacy of violence. Most citizens experience some form of violence. And not only physical violence – it can be verbal, psychological, economic, partner, institutional, etc. This year’s Pride March theme calls attention to the violence that LGBTIQ+ people experience just because they are LGBTIQ+ people and to the unequal treatment of LGBTIQ+ people in public (but also private) spaces in comparison with our heterosexual fellow citizens. Not wanting to diminish the insecurity, fear and violence present in society as a whole, our goal is to encourage a dialogue and awaken society to jointly question the spaces in which we have normalised certain forms of violence, and to make the LGBTIQ+ community aware to be able to recognise violence more clearly and to understand that they are not alone in their experiences.

The motto of the Fifth Bosnia and Herzegovina Pride March is I LOVE No Fear. This motto means love that is always stronger than fear and violence. With love and safety, we free ourselves from fear in everyday life and strive to live our authentic lives proudly in all their spheres. With this motto, we say that we LOVE not feeling fear when walking through a park with our partners, socialising and not hiding stories about our lives, being free in gender expression, being free and safe in the workplace, in our family and in institutions. We LOVE not feeling fear of being who we are – authentic individuals.

For this reason, join us in saying loudly that we who fight for freedom, safety and love exist in numbers higher than those who use violence and harassment to channel all their worries and torments.

We choose to live on the path of freedom and love.

Choose the same path and proudly walk the Fifth BiH Pride March with us on 22 June 2024.

Join us in the fight against violence.

For a world in which we LOVE without fear!

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