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Diversity

We’re Queer, We’re Here - Fighting for Rights in the Balkans

April 11, 2022

In the Balkans, conservative politicians and the church still hold sway over public opinion. As a result, role models are of enormous importance for the LGBTQ community.

https://p.dw.com/p/48rCo
LGBTQ-Gemeinde auf dem Balkan und ihre Anerkennung
Image: Phoenix
LGBTQ-Gemeinde auf dem Balkan und ihre Anerkennung
Image: Phoenix

Azis is one of these role models. He is gay, he is Roma, and he is the biggest pop star in his native Bulgaria. His popularity is a challenge to religious and traditionally-minded Bulgarians. He used to appear in drag, now, his onstage persona is that of a vulnerable tough guy. In fact, Azis had a double coming-out: as he says, "It's now easier in Bulgaria to say "I'm gay" - than "I'm Roma.

LGBTQ-Gemeinde auf dem Balkan und ihre Anerkennung
Image: Phoenix

In Serbia, the army and the church are held in high esteem. But the Serbian capital of Belgrade is home to one of the largest centers for gender reassignment surgery in the Balkans. Helena Vuković used to be a major in the Serbian army. When she talked about being a woman in a man's body, she was discharged from the army. Now Helena is an activist, fighting for the rights of trans people in Serbia.

LGBTQ-Gemeinde auf dem Balkan und ihre Anerkennung
Image: Phoenix

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, queer people still have a hard time living an open life. They fear violence and discrimination. But there are a number of young people willing to risk being themselves in public. In western Europe, the annual Pride parade may be a familiar sight on the streets, but in Sarajevo it constitutes a small revolution.

LGBTQ-Gemeinde auf dem Balkan und ihre Anerkennung
Image: Phoenix

"Queer Balkans" gathers remarkable individuals from queer Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Serbia who are fighting for freedom, justice and recognition in societies where populists, religious conservatism and machismo still rule.


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