The inclusion of queer voices in peacebuilding efforts can play a transformative role in challenging traditional social norms, especially in post-conflict societies of the Western Balkans that are seeking to rebuild and redefine their identities after the armed conflicts of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Incorporating queer perspectives into peacebuilding initiatives can serve as a catalyst for change by highlighting discriminatory practices and promoting understanding among different communities. The shared experience of marginalization can form the basis for empathy and collaboration among various ethnic and social groups, fostering a sense of unity in the pursuit of lasting peace.
The aspiration for inclusive and just peace has led to the adoption of the Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda. Rooted in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250, this Agenda emphasizes the importance of involving young people in all stages of peacebuilding, from conflict prevention to rebuilding trust and cooperation after conflicts. The Agenda recognizes that young people, regardless of their sexual orientation, bring new perspectives, energy, and innovative ideas to the table.
The development of the Regional Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda for the Western Balkans is one of the strategic priorities of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) until 2025. The experiences of queer youth in the Western Balkans must not be excluded from this process, considering the ways in which the LGBTQI+ community can contribute to building inclusive and sustainable peace. Including queer voices in discussions about peacebuilding contributes to shedding light on the root causes of conflict, as exclusion and discrimination of queer individuals are often connected to broader societal issues such as intolerance, ignorance, and prejudice. Furthermore, an inclusive approach to peacebuilding can challenge existing social norms and change perceptions about the LGBTQI+ community in the region.
What are the other benefits of including the LGBTQI+ community in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes in the Western Balkans and the development of the Regional Youth, Peace, and Security Agenda? Would encouraging stronger collaboration among representatives of the LGBTQI+ community in the region contribute to reducing tensions in the Western Balkans?
If you’re interested in answers to these questions, join the RYCO discussion over morning coffee titled “RYCO@BGPride Youth Coffee Talk: Queer for Peace – Are We Close?” at the KROKODIL Center (Karađorđeva 43, Belgrade) on September 5, 2023, from 11:00 to 12:30.
This event is organized by the RYCO Local Office in Serbia as part of Pride Week 2023. Please announce your attendance by filling out a short questionnaire at the link.
For additional information about the event, please contact Đorđo Cvijović, Local Program Officer at the RYCO Local Branch Office in Serbia, at [email protected].