Chargé d’Affaires Colleen Hyland’s Remarks for Improving LGBTI Rights

Chargé d’Affaires Colleen Hyland’s Remarks for Improving LGBTI Rights Event: “What went wrong and what can we do differently?” October, 8, 2018,

Good morning everyone—distinguished members of Kosovo’s government, the LGBTI community, allies of the community, my EU colleague. Thank you for inviting me to join you to celebrate the work of Kosovo’s LGBTI community.

Harvey Milk—an icon of the American LGBTI movement—famously said that “rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”  And I think that’s what you are here to do today.

As we are here today to discuss LGBTI rights, I would like to congratulate the community and its allies for making your voices heard.  By convening this meeting and organizing Pride Week for the second time, you’re ensuring that LGBTI rights are increasingly treated as basic human rights in Kosovo.  Everyone deserves to live with dignity and freedom.  And by raising awareness of LGBTI rights, you’re helping Kosovo move forward—toward a future where all people are treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

Members of the LGBTI community are also members of our families, neighbors and colleagues at work.  And they face wide-spread discrimination when it comes to education, health care, housing, and employment, as well as harassment on a daily basis.  It’s not easy for anyone to live under pressure and threats.  But out of this pressure comes urgency—and this urgency can help the government and LGBTI community members and allies work together to improve life for all communities in Kosovo.

As you know, Kosovo has one of the most advanced human rights legal frameworks in the world.  And it is a responsibility of the government to effectively and consistently implement its laws and policies, including those intended to protect the rights of the LGBTI community.  It’s also the right thing to do.

We want to hear how the Advisory and Coordination Group, co-directed by the Office of Good Governance in the Prime Minister’s Office and Kosovo’s LGBTI community, will continue implementing its action plan for LGBTI rights.  This plan helps ministries effectively engage on these important issues.

I’m here representing the entire US Mission, and I want you to know that the United States Government, and everything we do here is geared toward supporting an inclusive and prosperous Kosovo, with equal human rights for all, regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.  I’m pleased that this conference, which was a joint effort among various supporters and advocates, advances this goal.  And I look forward to the final report from the Center for Social Group Development, which is monitoring and tracking implementation of the LGBTI action plan.

I have high hopes for Kosovo’s progress in recognizing the rights of this community.  And I believe that to achieve this progress, the government must continue working with civil society to ensure that all communities are protected by the law.

I sincerely hope this conference and the other activities organized during Pride Week will help all Kosovo citizens access their full civil rights.  Thanks again for inviting me to participate and I wish you a successful week.