Exhibition ‘Where Love Is Illegal’: Respect and equal rights for all citizens

On the occasion of the First BiH Pride March, EU Info Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Heinrich Boll Stiftung organised the exhibition “Where Love is Illegal” by renowned photographer Robin Hammond. The exhibition expressed the support of the European Union to one of the most vulnerable groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the promotion of protection of fundamental human rights.

“Upholding and respecting human rights and the freedom of expression and assembly are core European values. These fundamental rights are very important for BiH’s EU integration process and an area in which we place particular emphasis.” said Gianluca Vannini, Head of Operations Section for Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Every citizen of BiH – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or characteristics – is entitled to all rights and freedoms, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression,” stressed Vannini.

“We decided to show this exhibition in Bosnia and Herzegovina four days prior to the first Pride March, bearing in mind that BiH is the only country in the region where such a March has not previously been held. We showed it in Berlin and it was a huge success, it presents an interesting mixture of documentation and art. The exhibition speaks about human rights, the right of the individuals to choose their rights, individual freedom and the respect of society towards this population” remarked Marion Kraske, Director of Heinrich Boll Stiftung in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ena Bavčić, member of the BiH Pride Organising Committee, underlined that BiH is very progressive when it comes to relevant legislation, “However, the implementation of the law is problematic, given that we don’t have many court decisions since it is very difficult to prove discrimination before the court. We have a long road ahead of us. The LGBTI community in BiH decided the time has come to organise the Pride March, it will never be the right or ideal time, but we need to start from somewhere.”

Speaking of the importance of first steps in achieving legal recognition and respect of fundamental human rights, Krista Sager, former German Senator for Equality presented her experience in advocating for “Hamburg marriage”, the model which enabled same-sex couples to register as couples, and how the model provided opportunities to discuss discrimination in schools, the workplace and in society in general. “Change in perceptions did not happen overnight. We worked hard with the general public and media to explain that the main issue was to achieve equal rights – nothing else,” underlined Sager.

LGBTI civil rights defenders are working to challenge injustice and give a voice to those who suffer oppression and discrimination across the world.  The initiative “Where Love is Illegal” is led by photographer Robin Hammond, documenting and capturing personal testimonies of survival from the LGBTI community around the world. On the occasion of first BiH Pride March, thirty portraits convey the strong message of the right to self-determination and sexual orientation, aiming to make Bosnia and Herzegovina another country where love is legal.