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Many gays and lesbians in Bosnia are so afraid of discrimination and rejection that they conceal their sexual orientation or make plans to leave the country, a gay rights group said Monday. "When it comes to gay rights, we are now where the Western world was in the 1950s and 1960s: Most lesbian, gay, or bisexual persons fear if their secret would be made public, they would be rejected by their families, colleagues, and friends," said Svetlana Djurkovic, coordinator of Bosnia's only registered group for gays, the Q Association.
She said her group interviewed a number of gays in Bosnia. "Up to 50%...told us they want to leave the country," she said. Among the 214 people interviewed, 90% said they keep their sexual orientation a secret, and 24% said they felt discriminated against either at work or elsewhere. Djurkovic said the study would be expanded.
Open discussion of homosexuality is not yet common in Bosnia. A film depicting gay love during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war sparked fierce debate in Sarajevo last year even before it was finished. Sarajevo director Ahmed Imamovic's film Go West tells the story of two gay men--a Serb and a Muslim transvestite--who attempt to flee the besieged Bosnian capital and are captured at a checkpoint by Bosnian Serbs.
Imamovic told reporters in a recent interview that "families easier accept if a member of their family is a war criminal than if he's gay." More than 75% of Bosnians said in an opinion poll published in May that they would feel "unpleasant" in the company of a gay person, and 80% had a negative view of homosexuality. The poll of 1,500 Bosnians over age 18 was carried out by the Prism Research agency and was the first survey to question Bosnian attitudes toward homosexuality. Djurkovic said she hopes life for Bosnia's gays will improve as Bosnia seeks to gain membership in the European Union. (AP)