Ahead of the LGBTQ+ Pride March held in Podgorica, Montenegro on Saturday, October 8, Joanikije II, the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) metropolitan bishop who is currently serving as the Metropolitan of Montenegro, invited “all Christians” to gather outside the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Podgorica on Friday, October 7. The SPC urged Christians to pray for the salvation of the sanctity of marriage and family, and said that, “our Christian path is a path of virtue, a path of holiness, a path of salvation, a path of fulfilling God’s commandments. This is why I invite all Christians, including you here, and you invite your loved ones, so that every family, every individual, adults, girls and boys and children come on Friday to the cathedral in Podgorica for a prayer for the salvation of the sanctity of marriage and family” according to the Metropolis of Montenegrin-Primorska (MCP).
Organized by Queer Montenegro, an NGO organization established in 2012, the tenth Montenegrin Pride March continues to work as an activist organization to support the country’s LGBTQ+ people and fight for more inclusive laws. “Also, we are increasingly building our chosen families in which we receive the support we deserve and which strengthens us. We are fighting for the survival of what forms the foundation of the family – support, love, perseverance and care,” the head of Queer Montenegro, Milos Knezevic, told the media. Montenegro Prime Minister Dritan Abazović’s office told Vijesti he would send public support to Montenegro Pride and point out the importance of freedom.
Despite Montenegro becoming the first non-EU Balkan state to legalize the Law on the Lifetime Same-Sex Partnership in 2020, which represents the first step in the new fight for full equality, the harmonization of the legislation goes beyond the involvement of the government and the national assembly. According to 2020 data from the NGO the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, the Serbian Orthodox Church accounts for approximately 90 percent of the Orthodox population. For this reason, Montenegro is still heavily influenced by the teachings and actions of the Serbian Orthodox Church that are predominantly against LGBTQ people. In a press release, the church said that “in our country events are held that directly destroy God-blessed marriage and the family, and destroy traditional values. We live in a time of instinctive totalitarianism where sin, selfishness and self-love are set as a measure of love, truth and freedom.”
While the hopes of Montenegro’s politicians were that passing the law would help the country join the European Union by meeting international human rights obligations, alleged discrimination against same-sex couples married abroad is still present, finds Podgorica-based NGO LGBT Forum Progress. Regardless of official supportive words and backing from Human and Minority Rights Minister Fatmir Djeka, Urban Planning Minister Ana Novakovic Djurovic, and Economy Minister Goran Djurovic attending the event, the government of Montenegro must establish measures against the SPC as to not allow their actions to contribute to the rejection and discrimination of LGBTQ people, and, of course, jeopardize Montenegro’s path to European Union membership and economic prosperity.
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