203 CHARGES FILED FOR HATE SPEECH, DISCRIMINATION, AND VERBAL VIOLENCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

 Non-governmental organisation LGBT Forum Progress, as a part of its regular activities covered by the project “Standing together – enhancement of protection of violence victims”, which is implemented in partnership with non-governmental organisation Women’s Right Center, and with the direct support of the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, continues with monitoring of hate speech, discrimination and verbal violence directed at LGBTIQ individuals on the Internet. Team for monitoring of hate speech and verbal violence, which has been actively involved in this topic for several years, has formed 203 charges, against 206 individuals, for comments made on social media, which called for violence, threatened LGBTIQ individuals, qualified them in negative ways, etc. All of the reported cases have been registered on the day of the Pride Parade “Montenegro Pride” in Podgorica, on September 23.

All the charges have been formed based on comments that have been made on Facebook, under the public posts of numerous media sources, that have been related to the Pride and its course. From the total number of charges, that have been filed today to the Police Directorate in Podgorica, more than 2/3 of them contains direct and explicit threats towards LGBTIQ individuals, more than 1/3 classifies LGBTIQ individuals as “sick” and “abnormal”, while over 30 of them uses derogatory terms for gay men. Additionally, in five cases Hitler is mentioned, and in 3 cases Putin and Russia. A significant number of charges contains statements related to natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc. Finally, there was a mention of nuclear weapons and North Korea, as some of the ways of “damaging” the LGBTIQ community.

“This year, unlike 2016 or 2015, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of negative comments, as well as comments that contain direct and open threats towards LGBTIQ individuals. According to our data, this strong and aggressive behaviour of individuals on the Internet and social media has not been marked since the first Prides in 2013, when the level of physical violence was very high as well.

What has been noticed during the partial analysis of several thousands, if not tens of thousands of comments on social media related to the Pride is that anger and hatred are two emotions that have been predominant. What surprised us was the fact that, following this Pride, a significant increase was noticed in the number of women who posted negative and threatening comments.

I would like to emphasise that we are very concerned with this increase in violent and threatening comments on social media, and that we hope that verbal violence will not transfer from the Internet onto the streets of our cities, and thus make the lives of LGBTIQ individuals in Montenegro even harder.” – Bojana Jokić, President.

LGBT Forum Progress will, in the future, continue to intensively monitor social media, in the part that is related to spreading of hate speech, discrimination, and verbal violence towards LGBTIQ community. Additionally, we will timely report such cases to relevant institutions, for their adequate processing. We invite all LGBTIQ individuals who have experienced verbal, psychological, or physical violence to contact LGBT Forum Progress for help and support, by sending an email at info@lgbtprogres.me or through our Facebook profile, in order to be given proper support and legal aid.

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