Worrying depictions of LGBTI community spark concern
A recent survey conducted by Mediacentar Sarajevo on the nature of media coverage of LGBTI+ topics in Bosnia and Herzegovina show that there is a need for higher standards in reporting among journalists. The survey results highlight that there is growing misinformation, speculation, sensationalism and one-sided stories being published regarding the LGBTI+ community, namely, the organisation noted that journalists fail to verify information prior to publication, which can lead to stories that inflame prejudice against LGBTI+ people in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In an illustration of the severity of the situation, the research found that just 9.3% of people agree with the statement that "BiH media objectively report on LGBTI+ topics" while 55.8% of people neither agreed nor disagreed and 34.9% disagreed with this statement.
In particular, the survey reflected that this environment has influenced the views and decisions of the members of the LGBTI+ community on their perception of safety in the country as well as the activities of some LGBTI+ CSOs. The report concluded that there is a need for greater responsibility among journalists and the media when reporting on these sensitive issues and in order to safeguard the rights of minority communities.
The end of 2019 and start of 2020 saw a number of protests held across the country. Below are some indicative examples:
- In December 2019, citizens held protests to close the garbage disposal landfill Uborak. However, after a five day blockade, the police from Mostar forcefully unblocked the entrance to the landfill, leaving five protesters in need of medical help. Protests were held again in January 2020 when demonstrators blocked the roads leading to the landfill for several hours in order to alert the local authorities to take their requests seriously and to show that they can act despite the police being there to secure the landfill.
- Dozens of people gathered for a peaceful protest in Sarajevo at dangerously high levels of air pollution, which saw Sarajevo named as one of the world’s most polluted cities. Dissatisfied at the lack of adequate response from the authorities, citizens gathered in front of the Cantonal government building, asking for an urgent plan for a long-term solution to this problem.
- Two protest rallies took place in Banja Luka in relation to Republika Srpska Minister of Interior, Dragan Lukac. One of them was organised by opposition members seeking the dismissal of Lukac after an incident at a parliamentary session. On the other hand, the second gathering was held in support of the Interior Minister and was organised by veterans’ associations. Both protests were held at a location only a few meters away, and police approved both rallies. Several thousand people attended the protests, although official figures downplayed attendance by saying that only 700 people gathered. There were no reported incidents.
- 20 employees of the Public Utility Company "Zenicatrans Passenger Transport" began a strike on 31st December 2019, because they have not received salaries since October 2019. On 7th January 2020, some of the employees began a hunger strike in the lobby of a bus station in Zenica, thus blocking the public transportation in the city.
- On 9th January 2020, in Banja Luka, a commemoration march was held for the unconstitutional Republika Srpska Day, mostly by members of the Ministry of the Interior, who attended the march wearing army battle dress. Around 2400 participants attended the march. However, other ethnic groups in the country criticised the event and asked for the organisers to be punished, as march celebrates an action that triggered the country’s devastating war in the 1990s.
- Around 100 health workers protested in front of the Sarajevo Canton Government demanding salary adjustments for all employees in cantonal health care institutions. This was the second protest gathering of health workers since 2nd September 2020, when they went on strike.
- After the arrest of the Turkish national and director of Richmond Park College in Bihac on charges of threatening B&H's national security (the details of these threatening actions were never released), his family, colleagues and students in Bihac held a peaceful protest to demand his release.