On Saturday 14th, hundreds of people will take to the streets of Sarajevo, to participate in a PRIDE march. I will be pleased to be one of them, as I was in the very first PRIDE event in BiH, two years ago. I will be there personally, because I believe in and support these values. I will also be there representing the UK government, because this is our policy everywhere around the world, UK ambassador to BiH Matt Field wrote in his blog.
The theme of this year’s event in Sarajevo is ‘Resistance from the Margins’. It is a really clear and powerful reminder that PRIDE is not only an act of celebration and inclusion. It is also a statement of protest, of the need to tackle the very real obstacles, challenges and hate that LGBT+ people face every single day. That is why we continue to need these events. PRIDE puts people from the margins of society centre stage, and shows how much we all still need to do.
The UK has made some positive steps in recent years. In my own ministry, last month we marked just 30 years since we ended the complete ban on all LGBT+ people serving as diplomats – a shocking reminder of institutionalised discrimination. But as friends and colleagues have made clear to me, the LGBT+ community continues to face prejudice, misunderstanding, stigma, and even outright opposition. This has been particularly felt amongst its transgender members. 70 countries continue to criminalise private, consensual activity between adults.
There is still a great deal to do. In this spirit, the UK announced that it will host its first ever Global LGBT+ Conference in June 2022. The conference will bring together governments, parliamentarians, business and civil society experts to increase efforts to protect and promote the rights of LGBT+ people around the world. The strongest, safest and most prosperous societies are those in which all citizens can live freely, without fear of violence or discrimination, and where all citizens, including LGBT+ people, can play a full and active part in society. Every person should have a fair opportunity in life.
And so back to Sarajevo. Sometimes I still hear people asking why the LGBT+ community needs a special event, or special treatment. The point is that they simply want the same treatment, the same rights and privileges, as everyone else. That is what PRIDE is about. Just as in 2019, I hope this year’s event will send a clear message of support and solidarity with our LGBT+ brothers and sisters, that we stand with and support them. I look forward to seeing many others out on the streets who feel the same.