Agim Margilaj

I came to Pristina in 2012 to study and got involved in LGBTI organizations. In December 2012, two homophobic attacks happened in Kosovo: 200 hooligans attacked an event run by magazine after it published an issue on sexuality and gender diversity; two days after an LGBTI organisation called Libertas was attacked. Until that moment the movement was underground. That was a triggering point for my activism, but also for LGBTI activism as a whole. We started to fight back against hatred with more visible activities, calling in public for society but also the government to be committed to LGBTI rights in Kosovo.

Since 2003, the Centre for Social Group Development (CSGD) has been working with the LGBTI community, establishing their drop-in centre as a safe, warm and welcoming environment where the community can be themselves. Since then, thousands of LGBTI persons and supporters have visited the centre. Other activities which are worth mentioning are: trainings, workshops, group discussions, social activities, participation in events such as prides, conferences and seminars. In terms of advocacy, CSGD consulted with the working group on drafting the Anti-Discrimination Law adopted in 2004 that included sexual orientation. The law was amended in 2015 to include gender identity.

While Kosovo has the most progressive legal framework for the protection of LGBTI rights in the region, Kosovan society has the highest level of homophobia in the western Balkans. The implementation of anti-discrimination laws remains poor and there is no concrete institutional commitment to the improving the environment for the LGBTI community. The education system is not inclusive; school and university curricula remain hetero- and cis-normative.

The first Pride Parade in Kosovo in 2017 was one of the biggest victories for the LGBTI movement in Kosovo. And being one of the organisers and spokespersons of the first Pride has given me more energy and courage to continue the fight. It is important that LGBTI persons are getting more empowered and expressing their queerness publicly. Inclusive education, law implementation, legal gender recognition and same-sex marriage would all improve the environment for the LGBTI community in Kosovo. I will just add an expression which will always be one of the most inspiring mottos for me, and which was used for the first Pride in Kosovo: “I will be your voice until we all sing together.”