Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the LGBTI / Rule of Law Reception

Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the LGBTI / Rule of Law Reception, July 18, 2017

President of the Constitutional Court Rama-Hajrizi, Former President Jahjaga, distinguished members of Kosovo’s LGBTI community, representatives of ministries, prosecutors, judiciary, civil society, diplomatic colleagues, and friends, welcome to the LGBTI Rule of Law Reception.  I am delighted to have this opportunity to address so many representatives of institutions who are taking the critical steps needed to ensure Kosovo’s laws are implemented to the benefit of all communities.

On June 7, Secretary of State Tillerson reaffirmed our commitment to LGBTI rights and our “solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI persons to live with dignity and freedom.”  We all know that democracy is most secure when all persons live freely, without fear of violence and discrimination.

Kosovo has one of the most advanced human rights legal frameworks in the world, and it is our hope that you can effectively implement these laws and policies.  This is important; many members of the LGBTI community have considered leaving Kosovo due to discrimination and harassment.

That is why tonight I want to emphasize the importance of implementing Kosovo’s excellent laws and human rights protections for all communities, including the LGBTI community.  When discrimination occurs, the NGOs here tonight, the Ombudspersons’ institution, and prosecutors ought to react.

If legal cases are brought, they need to be vigorously prosecuted because effective deterrence only occurs when there is punishment.

While we are pleased there was a conviction by the Basic Court of Ferizaj when two perpetrators targeted and attacked an anti-HIV campaigner, we understand the frustration of NGOs that stricter hate crimes laws were not used.

Therefore, I am glad our OPDAT program is working with these NGOs and the Justice Ministry to ensure all communities are protected by the law, and clarifications are made when necessary.

I am also pleased our ICITAP program is working with the Interior Ministry to ensure the transgender community can exercise its rights envisioned in the Law on Gender Equality to adjust official documents based on their gender identity.

ICITAP also works closely with Kosovo Police, and I would like to applaud the efforts of officers who treat every citizen with respect.

Reporting of hate crimes can only occur when there is faith in institutions, and this starts with police who serve the entire community.

High-level political leadership is also critical; I was proud to join President Thaci last year for the IDAHOT march, as I know my predecessor Tracey Jacobson was to join former President Jahjaga.  This leadership is a positive sign for Kosovo and the wider region.

There are lots of interesting people here tonight from both the government and the private sector.  I sincerely hope new links will be made tonight that will help all Kosovo citizens access their full civil rights.  One of those links is Oliver Mains.  Oliver is replacing Scott Lang and is responsible for the same issues he covered.

Thank you very much for joining us.