“On February 17, Kosovo celebrated its tenth birthday. Europe’s youngest nation was forged into being following the 1999 war of independence against the security forces of the Serbian government, which for years had ruthlessly oppressed the ethnic Albanian population of its south-western province.

Yet, nearly two decades after the formal cessation of hostilities, victims of oppression remain in Kosovo. Among them is the country’s LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) community.

On paper, Kosovo’s human rights legislation and rule-of-law provisions are far above its neighbours. After all, the foundations for those laws were laid by seconded officials from the countries that had backed the breakaway nation in its war against Belgrade and subsequently administered the territory prior to its declaration of independence.

However, there is a mantra among those that follow developments in Pristina, Kosovo’s capital: ‘Legislation is one thing, implementation is another.’

Freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation has been enshrined in the constitution since June 2008. And yet, the number of LGBTQI Kosovars that are willing to publicly identify themselves as such could be counted on two hands. Closeted or not, all those who spoke to Equal Times gave chilling testimony of what it means to be young and gay in Europe’s youngest country.” (Equal Times)