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NGO LGBT Forum Progres, in cooperation with its partners NGO LGBTIQ Social Center and NGO Hiperion, presented the “Dika” award for 2016, on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day. As a reminder, “Dika” was established in May of this year, as a social recognition for contribution to the visibility of LGBTIQ persons in Montenegro.

This year, “Dika” award was given to:
1. Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of Montenegro, in the category “Acknowledgement for the institution/organization/collective”,
2. Danilo Marunovic, film director, in the category “Acknowledgement for an individual”, and
3. Zdravko Cimbaljevic, LGBTIQ activist, in the category of “Special Acknowledgement”.

In the category “Acknowledgment for the institution/organization/collective”, five organizations/institutions were nominated – the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, Human Rights Action – HRA, Queer Montenegro, the Office of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms of Montenegro, and Civic Alliance.
Based on the majority of nominations, as well as on the great support that Ministry gave to the LGBTIQ community in Montenegro, it was decided that “Dika” award for 2016 will go to this Institution. On behalf of the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, the award was received by Mrs. Blanka Radosevic Marovic, the Director of the Directorate for Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms.

In the category “Acknowledgement for an individual” the nomenees were: film director Danilo Marunovic, LGBTIQ activist Zdravko Cimbaljevic, Minister Mehmed Zenk,a and Svetlana Jovanovic, a mother of an LGBTIQ person.
The nominations in this category were numerous, and most of them were given to film director Danilo Marunovic, whose work was recognized as very important in the field of promotion of human rights and equality of LGBTIQ persons, and therefore the “Dika” award was given to him. His unselfish contribution is reflected in several achievements that have LGBTIQ themes, or in some way depict the reality and problems of LGBTIQ people in Montenegro.

The winner in the category of “Special Acknowledgement” was selected by the votes of the decision-making bodies in the organizations that established the “Dika” award, and this recognition was unanimously given to Zdravko Cimbaljevic, as he was the first publicly gay man in Montenegro, and a sort of a founder of the LGBTIQ movement in our country. Zdravko is recognized throughout the world as an outstanding human rights and equality defender of LGBTIQ people, who continues his work despite all the obstacles, and is actively providing support to the Montenegrin LGBTIQ community from Canada.

Although the receiving ceremony of the award “Dika” was initially announced for June 28th, due to small number of nominations, it was postponed for the end of the year. Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations LGBT Forum Progres, LGBTIQ Social Center and Hiperion actively collected nominations for the prize, and, in the end, they collected a total of 135. Nominations that were received for organisations that established the “Dika” award and for their active members did not come into consideration.

“I would like to use this opportunity and, on behalf of all three organisations, thank everyone who sent their nominations and everyone who patiently waited for the final results. We are very proud of both the number of nominations and of all the winners. Considering that this was the first year of the award, we did not know what the public reaction would be. We are happy that all those who contributed throughout their work towards the visibility of LGBTIQ people have been acknowledged, and we congratulate them once again.. We hope that there will be more nominations next year, that there will be more people who promote equality and acceptance of LGBTIQ people through their work, and that “Dika” will become recognized as a valuable prize.” said John Barac, Executive Director of LGBT Forum Progres.

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As the President of LGBT Forum Progress, I use this opportunity to publicly react and condemn the homophobia, misogyny and sexism that are all-present in the media campaigns of the political subject “Democrats of Montenegro”. Democrats of Montenegro have, in the recent period, launched several videos in the public, as a part of their political campaign, which contain clear elements of discrimination and degradation of women.

One of those videos contains elements of homophobia, which negatively characterise LGBTIQ persons, and describes gay men in an offensive way. The scene from that video, in which two individuals – a partisan and a četnik (chetnik) – discuss different identities in the Montenegrin society, contains, among other, words “Peder je!” (He is a fag) and “Nije peder!” (He isn’t a fag) in the context of something bad and places the identity of gay men in the same basket as ideologies, which has absolutely nothing to do with one another. What makes this additionally problematic is the fact that, through this video, LGBTIQ individuals are equated with “četnici” (chetniks), which additionally creates negative perception among the Montenegrin public and fuels already existing homophobia. A serious and democratic political subject such as Democrats of Montenegro cannot allow itself to use the terms such as “peder” (fag), which have extremely negative and bad meaning in Montenegrin society.

Additionally, in another two videos the elements of misogyny and sexism are clearly demonstrated, as well as placing women in a subordinate and insignificant position. The videos themselves show the leader of the Democrats talking to the “man of the house” while in the background the “housewife” can be clearly seen washing the dishes, with her face never being shown, reducing her to a mere object. This representation of a woman and the role of women in a household is decades away from the values of modern Montenegro and a democratic society that is striving towards Europe.

Finally, in the fourth video, the leader of Democrats is speaking of a woman who gave birth to triplets, and referred to her childbirth as a “measure of patriotism towards her country”. I repeat that this representation of women, as “objects for childbirth”, is a big step backwards and a completely misogynous statement from a leader of a political party. The promotion of machismo and sexism in this way only widens the gap between women and men and feed the existing prejudice.

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As a woman, a feminist, and a human rights defender, I have to say that I am deeply disturbed by this display of homophobia, discrimination, misogyny, and sexism that originated from the Democrats of Montenegro. The abuse of LGBTIQ persons and the degradation of women cannot have their place and a pass in the public and political dialogue in Montenegro, and these kinds of behaviours and actions mush have adequate sanctions, no matter who perpetrated them. LGBT Forum Progress has, in the past, warned about the negative use of the LGBTIQ community in the dialogue of some political subjects, but what is happening now is a significant problem for the whole society.

We call for the Democrats of Montenegro to withdraw from public all discriminatory and misogynous videos, not to use them anymore, and to issue a public apology to the LGBTIQ community and all women in Montenegro. We hope that other LGBTIQ and women’s organisations in Montenegro will join in this appeal.

Bojana Jokić, President
LGBT Forum Progress

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 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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