Several people were attacked at the end of the first day of the Sarajevo Queer Festival on Wednesday. Eight people, policemen included, were reported to have been injured after dozens of young men attacked visitors to festival. According to the organizers of the four-day event police allowed anti-gay protestors to get too close to the venue thus endangering the participants.
The festival, organised by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) non-governmental organization, Udruženje Q, opened in the Academy of Fine Arts in the centre Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The attacks forced the organizers to make the rest of the festival a private event.
Amnesty International called on the authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice. The organization also called on the authorities to provide adequate security for the participants of the festival.
"The call of gay rights activists for equality before the law and an end to discrimination was met with intolerance and violence," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
The organizers of the festival and their sympathisers, including journalists, have and continue to receive death threats. Homophobic posters are widely distributed and put in prominent places. Some media outlets have used homophobic language and misrepresented the aims of the festival.
In a letter to the Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola Špirić earlier this month, Amnesty International expressed concern at the atmosphere of increasing intimidation against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the country and called on him to ensure that their rights are protected.
To date, Amnesty International has not received an answer. The apparent lack of adequate measures by the authorities to guarantee an atmosphere free of intimidation and violence for the festival shows that the organization's recommendations have not been heeded.