Out Leadership’s Managing Director, Global Equality Initiatives, Fabrice Houdart recently had the opportunity to chat with Mr. Liridon Veliu about the state of LGBTQ+ issues in Kosovo.
– For Pride in 2020, the mayor’s office flew a rainbow flag in Pristina, is it a sign that societal attitudes are progressing positively in Kosovo?
Not only the Municipality of Prishtina but also the government and some ministries flew the rainbow flag during the Pride in 2020. Further on, the municipality of Prishtina also painted the crosswalk in front of their building with rainbow colors. Such acts show that the institutions of Kosovo have changed their attitudes towards LGBTI rights for the better. Although some change can be seen in Prishtina, when it comes to other cities or the general public, the progress is barely visible. There is still a lot of hate and stigmatization towards LGBTI persons.
– We speak a lot of a resurgence of authorities and officials using LGBTQ+ people as political pawns in Eastern Europe particularly Hungary and Poland, is it the case in Kosovo?
In Kosovo, there are very few people who are openly LGBTI in the media, and none of them are politicians. Therefore, this trend has not been going on in Kosovo as of yet. Politicians, in general, do not mention LGBTI rights in their political campaign or when they are in opposition. On the other hand, when they are in power, they have the legal and political obligation to deal with LGBTI issues due to the pressure that is put by the civil society organizations, and by the international institutions that operate in Kosovo.
– Does Kosovo’s commitment to advance on its European path play a positive role in legal and societal progress?
Kosovo’s commitment to advance on its European path has played a huge role in advancing the legal framework regarding LGBTI rights such as the constitution, the anti-discrimination law, criminal code, and so on. However, the institutions that are supposed to implement such laws are not willing to commit to these obligations, due to a lack of capacities and/or information regarding LGBTI rights. When it comes to societal progress, it hasn’t played that much of a positive role, as the society quite often sees LGBTI persons, or homosexuality in general as something “imported” from the west (US and EU), rather than being present in the Kosovar culture.
– The ILGA Europe Annual Review for 2020, points out that the draft Kosovo Civil Code published in July fails to make any progress on providing legal recognition to diverse families can you tell us more about it?
Kosovo is in the process of drafting its first Civil Code, which will consist of five books, one of which (the fourth) deals with Family. The LGBTI organizations CSGD and CEL, together with other human rights organizations have sent their clear recommendation in March 2019 to the working group that drafted the Civil Code, to include same-sex partnerships, however, these recommendations were not taken into consideration until now. In the last three years, Kosovo has changed three governments and two central elections have been held. Currently, after the parliamentary elections held on the 14th of February, the new parliament is still not constituted meaning the new government is still not established. This had a direct impact on the further proceeding of the civil code, as no parliamentary hearing has been held in regards to the civil code. It is still unclear on the stance of the new government regarding the civil code in general and specifically of same-sex partnerships.
– OutLeadership member companies are increasingly eager to contribute to social change? does the private sector play a role in LGBTQ+ progress in Kosovo? what can companies do to help?
The private sector in Kosovo is still not willing to contribute or even discuss LGBTI issues. We have tried to discuss with a few companies on the topic of diversity, however, all these companies have refused to engage in such discussion and it was clear that these companies are not ready to deal with LGBTI issues.
Mr. Liridon Veliu was born in 1993, in Skenderaj, Kosovo. He is currently finishing his BA in English Literature at Dardania University, in Prishtina.
Liridon holds the position of Program Manager in Center for Social Groups Development – CSGD. He started as an activist since he was 18 in social media and participated in the activities for LGBTI issues until the age of 20 when he started working in QESh as a Project Manager. He soon was promoted to the position of the Executive Director of QESh. In July 2017, he started working in the other LGBTI organization CEL as a Project Manager until April 2018. Since then, Liridon has been a significant employee in CSGD with extensive expertise in advocating for LGBTI rights and conducting various workshops and training with police, prosecutors, and judges on the treatment of cases of LGBTI individuals and lectures with university students.