History made as Bosnia holds its first ever Pride parade

Bosnia is the last of the Balkan countries to celebrate Pride with the parade taking place through the capital's streets on Sunday afternoon.

Bosnia Pride parade
Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Several thousands of people took part in the first LGBT+ Pride parade in Bosnia on Sunday, September 8. The event had heavy security including anti-sniper units after some conservative Muslim groups organised counter-rallies.

The parade made its way through Bosnia’s capital, Sarajevo, peacefully despite fears due to aggressive hate speech online.

“I have always thought that basic human rights should exist for all and when I saw all those hate comments against the Pride march, I felt it was my obligation to come and show support,” said Sanja, 54, from Sarajevo, who joined the march with her husband.

Over 1,000 police officers were present at the parade to shield the walkways with anti-sniper units on rooftops along the main route in the city centre.

Bosnia is the final Balkan country to hold a Pride parade as it sets its sights on joining the European Union. EU diplomats and the U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, who is gay, joined the march in support of the LGBT+ community.

“This is an important step in the protection of the fundamental rights of all citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including of LGBTI persons, who have the right to live their lives free from discrimination, abuse and threats…,” Johannes Hahn, the EU enlargement commissioner, said in a tweet.

The slogan for the Pride celebration is the phrase “Door, please!”. While a commonly heard expression on public transport in Bosnia, it has also come to be used as a reference to opening the ‘closet’ door when people are coming out.

In the past, attempts to organise Pride celebrations in the country have been met with violence. In 2008 and 2014 events organised to support LGBT+ people had to cancel when participants were violently attacked by hooligans and radical Islamists.

Famed Bosnian queer artist, Bozo Vreco, told Reuters that this is a big step forward for the country:

“This is a big step forward for Bosnia and Sarajevo, opening the doors toward Europe and the world. I am so proud and happy; I think that love has won today.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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