Pride Parade Spurs Spike in Balkan Digital Violations

Pride Parades attract hate speech in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia

Pride parades in Sarajevo and Skopje on June 25 prompted numerous digital rights violations which followed the common pattern of online hate speech against the LGBT+ community.

Participants during the 'Skopje pride', the second gay parade in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia, 26 June 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

BIRN monitoring recorded a rise in online hate speech and incitement to violence in North Macedonia, related to Skopje Pride. Angry debates were sparked between social media users who supported the parade and those who opposed it.

The content of the debate well exceeded the boundaries of protected speech, with many comments calling for violence against the Pride participants and other members of the LGBT+ community.

Similar violations were recorded in Bosnia and Herzegovina, both during but also ahead of the Sarajevo Pride Parade.

An interview that Mirza Halilčević, a member of the organizing committee of BiH Pride Parade, gave to the portal Byka, attracted many homophobic comments.

General elections are scheduled to take place in Bosnia on October 2, and many politicians and political subjects used the parade issue to appeal to voters.

A member of the Bosniak Party for Democratic Action, SDA, and the former minister in Sarajevo's Cantonal government, Faruk Kapidzic, on the day of Sarajevo Pride, on Facebook compared the parade with the 1992-5 siege of Sarajevo and even involved the convicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in the comparison, thus not only spreading hate against the LGBT+ community but also insulting the citizens of Sarajevo who lived through the siege.

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