Bosnian Pride organisers to sue Republika Srpska president

Bosnian Pride organisers to sue Republika Srpska president
/ bne IntelliNews
By Denitsa Koseva in Sofia March 20, 2023

Milorad Dodik, the president of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Republika Srpska, is facing a lawsuit for discrimination against LGBT people, after saying that his entity "does not accept" LGBT organisations.

Dodik’s statement was made after an attack on members of the LGBT community and a journalist who was passing by. Three people were injured, including the journalist.

“Banja Luka [Republika Srpska’s administrative centre] is not a city that can accept and understand that kind of organisation. Given that this was all organised by the people who come from outside, Banja Luka said it does not belong to this sort of conscience. As long as I am the president, I shall always be expressing my stance,” Dodik said as quoted by N1.

He added he felt “no remorse” for the attack.

Pride march organisers said on March 20 they are filing a lawsuit against Dodik and the mayor of Banja Luka, Drasko Stanivukovic, accusing them of encouraging attacks with their public statements.

Mizra Halilcevic, one of the organisers, said an official meeting of the team was supposed to be held in the building of Transparency International. However, the police took the team out, urging them to go back to where they came from and saying they were not safe in Banja Luka, N1 reported.

“As for those who took violent actions, there is a law, they are known, they will be held accountable,” he added.

The March 18 attack followed the ban by the entity’s authorities on the planned Pride march announced on the same day over alleged security reasons. Dodik said he had urged the police to ban the event after 13 associations and organisations objected to the event.

On March 18, a group of 30 people, believed to have been football hooligans, attacked the organisers of Bosnia’s LGBT Pride march. The injured journalist, Vanja Stokic, said the police did not do anything to defend the group. Stokic said she and one of the Pride march activists asked the police to protect them after escaping the attackers but the policemen allegedly said that was not part of their job, N1 reported.

Meanwhile, the anti-LGBT campaign in Republika Srpska continued, with a group of people demolishing the premises of local NGO that is working on human rights protection, including the rights of LGBT people, N1 reported.

The attack was condemned by the international community with foreign embassies calling on Banja Luka’s authorities to take action.

“We strongly condemn this evening's violence in Banja Luka. Words have consequences. When civil society activists and journalists are regularly targets of verbal attack by RS politicians, it creates a climate where physical attacks can follow,” the delegation of the European Union said following the attack.