Sarajevo Open Centre (SOC) advocates for full respect of human rights and social inclusion of LGBTI people and women.
Sarajevo Open Centre (SOC) advocates for full respect of human rights and social inclusion of LGBTI people and women. Sarajevo Open Centre is an independent, feminist civil society organisation aspiring to empower LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and intersex) persons and women by strengthening the community and building an activist movement.
Sarajevo Open Centre also publicly promotes human rights of LGBTI people and women, and advocates improvement of legislation and better policies in Bosnia and Herzegovina at state, European, and international level. By working on issues of European integration, Sarajevo Open Centre is improving human rights in general and encouraging further development of civil society. Sarajevo Open Centre was founded in 2007 and its professionalization began in 2011. Today, with 11 team members, a steering board, its founders, activists, and an intensive partner network in BiH and all over Europe, the organisation is recognised as one of the key actors in the civil society of Bosnia and Herzegovina when it comes to human rights.
Founded in 2011, Association Okvir supports LGBTIQA communities reclaim public space through community building, cultural production, activism, and alliance building.
Founded in 2011, Association Okvir supports LGBTIQA communities reclaim public space in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) through community building, cultural production, activism, and alliance building. Working with a feminist “multiple discriminations” approach, Okvir roots its work in the intersections of sex, gender, race, class, ethnicity, age and ability. Their main projects include operating an LGBTIQA “SOS” helpline and psychological support training for LBTQ women, mobilizing for state accountability and prevention of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, and producing video and digital media and a range of cultural events to raise public awareness of LGBTQ rights. Through their alliance building, their work integrates gender and sexuality issues with feminist movements and progressive articulations of citizenship. LGBTQ communities in BiH continue to face intense violence from religious extremists.
Founded in 2005, the CURE Foundation is a women-led feminist organization advocating for gender equality and progressive change across Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Founded in 2005, the CURE Foundation is a women-led feminist organization advocating for gender equality and progressive change across Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) through cultural organizing, activist training and alliance building. They host the Women’s Network of BiH, made up of over 54 organizations and many individuals working for human rights. The first of its kind in the region, their annual ‘PitchWise’ regional feminist cultural festival brings together activists and communities for film screenings, exhibitions, workshops, lectures and street actions. CURE’s strategies include facilitating workshops with young women on women’s human rights, LGBTQ rights, activism and political participation; leading street actions to raise public awareness about women’s and LGBTQ rights; building the women’s movement and creating space for LGBTQ issues; and networking with women’s and LGBTQ groups in Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro as well as in BiH. They also document women’s human rights violations and advocate with policymakers.
The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice stands in solidarity with our grantee partners around the globe that continue to have the courage to stand up against human rights violations, homophobia, and transphobia everywhere. We stand in solidarity with the anti-violence and anti-hate speech work of LGBTQI groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including the Colorful Network, Organization Okvir, and Astraea grantee partner Organization Q.
Verbal harassment and hate speech against LGBTQI people persists in Bosnia and Herzegovina, threatening the safety of individuals and communities at large. Less than 4 years ago, organizers of the 1st Queer Sarajevo Festival were met with death threats and physical attacks from a hostile section of the public, leaving eight people injured at the end of the first day. Later, festival organizers were told by police that they would have to pay exorbitant costs for private security to be allowed to hold the events.
Just recently, on April 19th, a group of students at University of Sarajevo, including members of Organization Q and the Colorful Network made a public stand against the explicit and implicit discriminatory practice of the public Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Institute prohibits LGBTQI people from donating blood on the basis of their sexual or gender identity. During the blood drive a lesbian came out when trying to donate blood and was met with verbal and physical harassment and hate speech. In solidarity, the Astraea Foundation has signed onto a statement by the Colorful Network demanding a stop to homophobia in public institutions. ??
Physical attacks and hate speech are unacceptable, especially when promoted by public employees and unchallenged by public educational institutions & their governments. The safety of LGBTQI communities cannot remain solely in the hands of LGBTQI community members alone. The attacks at the Public Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and at the 1st Queer Sarajevo Festival are not isolated incidences of hate violence. We are encouraged by the courageous and visible responses from lesbian activists in the country and region, and call on allies to take a stand against institutional discrimination.
Read more about the incident at Institute for Transfusion Medicine of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Colorful Network’s statement.