How Sarajevo’s upcoming Pride march could turn the tables on ethnonationalism

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07/18/2019

In June, many countries across the Western Balkans celebrated Pride Month with marches or parades — with one notable exception. Bosnia remains the only country in the region where a Pride march has yet to occur. But this unflattering record may not stand for long, with plans now underway for the first Bosnian Pride march on Sept. 8 in Sarajevo. The significance of this event cannot be overstated for a country still wrestling with its past. The last time an overtly pro-LGBT public gathering occurred in Bosnia, at the 2008 Sarajevo Queer Festival, an angry mob attacked those present. A familiar combination of religious extremists and hooligans joined forces, injuring eight. So why is Bosnia an outlier in the region in terms of LGBT exposure and rights? The country, of course, experienced a bloody war in the 1990s, and the postwar has seen it remain mired in chauvinism and corruption. Instead of embracing socially progressive attitudes after the conflict, ethnonationalist politicians have cultivated a heteronormative, rigidly patriarchal, family-centered narrative to keep themselves in power.

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