GSA at the third IDAHO Forum in Montenegro

Belgrade, 3 June 2015

After the Netherlands in 2013 and Malta in 2014, the 3rd International IDAHO Forum 2015 titled “Ending hate crime and violence“ was organized by the Government of Montenegro and took place from 10-12 May this year in Budva. Since 2013 IDAHO Forum has been organized in honor of 17 May – International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) – and it gathers representatives of the European Commission, European Parliament, Council of Europe, international organizations, national state institutions, academia, as well as civil society organizations.

IDAHO-Forum-2015-CGAt this year’s Forum in Budva, there were more than 230 participants from 22 countries of the EU and the region, while on the flag mast in front of hotel Splendid, where this conference was taking place, they were flying a big rainbow flag – a symbol of the LGBT movement around the world. Numerous panels and plenary sessions covered a range of topics, such as hate crime and violence motivated by prejudice, legal framework and court practice of the International Court in Strasbourg, the best practice in the fight against violence and hate crime, the strengthening of trust between police and LGBT people, analysis of different approaches to the fight against discrimination, battling myths and prejudices against LGBT people in the police and the judiciary, the status of intersex people, the analysis of the impact IDAHO Forum has had since its establishment, etc.

Duško Marković, Vice President of the Government of Montenegro and the host of IDAHO Forum 2015, said in his opening speech among other things: “It is very important that we continue to follow initiated process of coordinated international efforts and activities in the fight against homophobia and transphobia, on all levels. In this we should keep in mind the real needs of the LGBTI community. That requires continuous work on reexamining social attitudes and facing stereotypes and prejudices that are directed against LGBTI people. I assure you that Montenegro is unequivocally choosing the path of respecting universal human rights and is taking serious steps towards building a society that will respect diversity”. Other speakers at the opening of the Forum were: Vice President of the European Parliament Ulrike Lunacek; Commissioner of the EC for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová; Council of Europe’s Director General of Democracy Snežana Samardžić-Marković; Member of the European Parliament Terry Reintke; and Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development from South Africa John Jeffery.

In addition to the high delegations led by ministers of the Netherlands, Malta, Sweden, Austria, Finland and Italy, the high government officials from the region who participated and spoke at the forum were: the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro Igor Lukšić; Minister of Justice of Montenegro Zoran Pažin; Montenegrin Minister without portfolio Marija Vučinović; Minister without portfolio in charge of European integration in the Government of Serbia Jadranka Joksimović; Minister of Public Administration in the Croatian Government Arsen Bauk; Deputy Minister for Social Welfare and Youth of Albania Badhilka Kospiri; Deputy Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nezir Pivić, and many others.

Minister Joksimović co-signed the regional joint “Statement on ending violence and hate crime against LGBT people”, together with the ministers and deputy ministers of Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Statement was signed after an informal ministerial meeting that took place within the IDAHO Forum.

Also, other participants from Serbia at IDAHO Forum 2015 were: representatives of the Ministry of Interior Aleksandar Vasilijević, Novak Vučinić and Aleksandar Stojmenović; a delegation of the Office for Human and Minority Rights of the Serbian Government led by the Director Suzana Paunović; dr Zorica Mršević from the Institute of Social Sciences; the Constitutional Court judge Marija Draškić; lawyer Tamara Ivanišević; and the representative of Infostud Jelena Dubovi. Besides Mirjana Bogdanović from Gay Straight Alliance, the Forum was also attended by other representatives of civil society organisations from Serbia: Milan Antonijević from the Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Boban Stojanović and Adam Puškar from Pride Parade Belgrade, Jovanka Todorović from Labris and Milan Đurić from Gayten.

After the World Economic Forum in Davos, where LGBT rights were discussed for the first time in the history of that Forum, this year in Budva, under the auspices of IDAHO Forum 2015, the Business Forum was organized for the first time in the Balkans in support of institutions and companies for the promotion of policies of diversity, equality and full social inclusion. Business Forum was organized in collaboration with the Government of Montenegro, “Outleadership” from the United States and Europe, IBM Corporation, Parks – Liberi e Uguali from Italy, the German Association of Gay Managers and Entrepreneurs and the American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro.

The LGBTI Business Forum was opened by speeches from Minister without portfolio in the Government of Montenegro Marija Vučinović; adviser to the Prime Minister of Montenegro and the coordinator of IDAHO Forum Jovan Kojičić; Ambassadors of the Netherlands and Great Britain Laurent Stokvis and Ian Whitting; Bix Aliu for the Ambassador of the USA to Montenegro; Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro Milica Dragojević; and the Executive Director of Gay Straight Alliance from Belgrade Mirjana Bogdanović.

The key message of the Business Forum is that having diversity, including LGBT people, is good for business and for companies which recognize the inclusive strategy and receive benefits on a global level. Participants of the forum gave a positive assessment to the efforts of the Government of Montenegro in fostering unity among all social actors and working on the improvement and creation of cultural values and assumptions that would support the acceptance of diversity and encourage the visibility of LGBT people in the community and in the workplace.

Info Center GSA

Sources: GSA, Tanjug, website of the Government of Montenegro
Photo: Public relations bureau of the Government of Montenegro

You can download joint “Statement on ending violence and hate crime against LGBT people” HERE.

You can read the GSA executive director’s speech at the opening of LGBTI Business Forum HERE.

You can download whole program of IDAHO Forum 2015 with the welcoming speech and biographies of speakers and panelists HERE.