“Together for LGBT Rights”: Reaction Regarding Lawyer Marković’s threats

The Coalition “Together for LGBT Rights” most decidedly condemns hate speech directed to the LGBTIQ community and our allies by lawyer Velibor Marković and simultaneously extends support to the journalist of the “Vijesti” Damira Kalač, who filed a complaint against Marković as a citizen, due to threats made on the social network Facebook.

Considering that lawyer Marković in his attempt to justify hate speech and open threats, invokes the Constitution, we want to remind that the Constitution of Montenegro explicitly prohibits “infliction or encouragement of hatred or intolerance on any grounds” (Article 7).

Every person in Montenegro has the right to express their gender identity and sexual orientation, which is explicitly guaranteed by the Law on Prohibition of Discrimination, which also prohibits hate speech. No individual should be allowed to arbitrarily restrict the freedom of any citizen of Montenegro and especially not to make open threats to those who stand in defense of basic human rights and freedoms. We are particularly concerned that hate speech and threats were used by someone who may find himself professionally representing a member of the LGBTIQ community, which obviously affects his objective judgment of such a person.

Lawyer Marković’s posts and comments on social media, directed to journalist Kalač and the LGBTIQ community, are the epitome of intolerance and hatred and are directly threatening. Therefore, the Coalition requires a prompt response and adequate processing of this case in accordance with the law by the relevant authorities to which the case was reported.

We especially appeal to the Bar Association of Montenegro to react urgently and decisively, and determine the violation of legal ethics in this case. We remind that the Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers also indicates “a special type and high degree of professional and moral responsibility of lawyers” and that “the importance and reputation of the legal profession as a whole depends on the manner of work and behaviour of each lawyer.” The basis of a lawyer’s professional ethics and responsibility is to “serve the interests of justice and to be obliged to contribute to the rule of law and a society based on respect for the law via his professional and other public actions and personal example.” A lawyer “should be aware of his responsibility at all times and harmonise his actions with it” (Principle I, Fundamentals of Professional Ethics and Responsibility, Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers of the Bar Association of Montenegro).

It is of particular concern that someone who is a lawyer with a long practice of law does not actually know the Constitution or interprets it in a layman’s and banal way, claiming that freedom of expression means that anyone can say whatever comes to mind to them, to insult, slander, ridicule and spread hatred and intolerance.

Montenegro must be a country of free citizens, the rule of law and human rights. All relevant institutions are obliged to, via uncompromising application of the law, enable every LGBTIQ person in Montenegro to express their personality, which includes sexual orientation or gender identity, freely and without fear at any time and in any place.

Press release signed by the members of the Coalition “Together for LGBT Rights”: Institute Alternative, Queer Montenegro, Human Rights Action (HRA), Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Spectra Association, CAZAS, CeMI, Ministry of Culture, Center for the Development of Non-Governmental Organisations (CDNGO), LBTQ Women’s Association “Stana”, SOS telephone Nikšić, Montenegrin Women’s Lobby, NGO Juventas, CEDEM, Anima, Clinical Centre of Montenegro and Ministry for Human and Minority Rights.

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