Last September, I counted myself lucky to join hundreds of others in the first ever PRIDE march in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite security concerns beforehand, it was a happy and joyful event, a celebration showing that this country is a home and open to all, British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Matt Field wrote on his blog on Friday.
This year there will be no physical event – a responsible decision given the COVID19 situation. But we will be with the same communities in spirit, through online events. Please follow @bh.povorkaponosa Facebook page for more details.
The theme of this year’s PRIDE in BiH is ‘Nije život četiri zida’ – ‘No life within four walls’. It captures the experience of many LGBTI people that they cannot be themselves out in the world, that they are trapped. It is perhaps an experience that is easier to understand and empathise with after the last six months. And of course for many LGBTI people, home itself is still not a safe place to be themselves.
Why do I believe participation in events like this is important? I personally, and the UK government around the world, support PRIDE marches as a way of supporting people who continue to face fear and discrimination in their daily lives. Our LGBTI+ brothers and sisters are not asking for special treatment. They are asking for the same rights as everyone else, to live freely and openly. As we have seen with voting and other rights for women, religious freedoms, and many other fights against oppression, public demonstrations are one of the best ways to support progress. It is simply not enough to sit back quietly and hope someone else will act.
Why then do we need an event specifically for LGTBI+? Why not for everyone, or for heterosexual people? I find the idea that straight people are ‘missing out’ on having a PRIDE event quite a strange one. The fact is that PRIDE is needed when being openly yourself is an act of courage, of defiance against the prejudice of others. Many LGBTI people face harassment and abuse in their daily lives, in their workplaces, restrictions on where they go and with whom they are seen. Be happy if you do not face those daily challenges – we should all long for the day when such demonstrations are not needed for anyone.
So who are these events for? Anyone and everyone who believes in the rights of others.
If you only believe in rights for those who look like you, live like you, love like you, then you don’t believe in rights at all. That is why I was so pleased to have the chance to show my support last September. And it is why I am looking forward to joining this year’s online events to feel that same sense of community, purpose and love. Jer nije život četiri zida – because there is no life within four walls.