Blert Morina and Haveit honored with Democracy Award

Mr. Blert Morina and the collective artists “Haveit” have been honored with 2018 Democracy Award, for contributing in promoting human rights and gender equality in Kosovo.

The awards were presented in the frame of the ‘Democratic Society Promotion’, a project co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DANIDA), implemented by the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF).

Mr. Blert Morina, this year’s awardee, is the first member of Kosovo’s transgender community initiating a landmark case for the institutional recognition of gender change in Kosovo. On the other hand, Haveit –  a non-formal group of four, have been awarded for being vocal advocates for gender equality and LGBTI rights through visual art and public performances.

KCSF Executive Director Mr. Taulant Hoxha, said that the award highlights the efforts, courage and sacrifices of Kosovo citizens for the democratization of the country.

“Democracy is not only about free and fair election; democracy is more than that. Critical thinking, protests, civic courage and daily challenge of the status-quo are crucial elements of the democracy. In a period of profound citizens’ apathy, we are inspired by those who come out of their comfort zones and engage in issues that affect each of us individually and as a society in general” stressed Mr. Hoxha in his welcoming speech.

Presenting the award to Haveit, the representative of SDC. Mr. Patrick Etienne, praised the courage and dedication of the 2018 Democracy Award winners.

“I have a great admiration for the ones who have the courage to fight for human rights and social inclusion and I am happy that some of them can be awarded tonight.” said Mr. Etienne.

One behalf of Haveit the award was received by Ms. Alketë Sylaj. She underlined that Haveit have used art as a raising awareness tool to tackle taboo issues to Kosovar society. “It is important for us that our work and efforts are being recognized,” said Ms. Sylaj.

While, Mr. Anders Kragh Bingen of DANIDA, presented the award to Mr. Blert Morina. He expressed his happiness that Mr. Morina is being acknowledged for his fight and, as he said, may this be an encouragement to continue the struggle for recognition and respect for gender rights in Kosovo.

“I believe tonight’s recognition is extremely important as the recipient is indeed a true activist fighting for equal gender rights in a difficult environment. It takes a lot of courage and strength to fight the authorities singlehandedly and to go up against traditional norms in society, but we hope that this fight can show a path and inspire others,” said Mr. Bingen.

Mr. Morina pointed out that this award will convey a message to each member of LGBTI community that initiatives for improving the life of people in society are praised and supported.

“If we would have surrendered at the very first obstacles, today we would not have had the chance to celebrate the diversity during one week in public spaces, if we would give up in the beginning today we would not have people who freely speak about their sexual and gender identity,” said Mr. Morina.

The Democracy Awards are presented by the “Democratic Society Promotion” (DSP) Project, on annual basis. This year’s awardees join the individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the strengthening of democracy in Kosovo, for which Lumbardhi Foundation was awarded in 2016 for the successful protection initiative of the Lumbardhi Cinema in Prizren. Mr. Murat Mehmeti, the whistle-blower on a massive tax evasion scheme in the Tax Administration of Kosovo (TAK), and the ‘Insajderi’ online news portal, which published a series of investigative reports on corruption and organized crime, were the recipients of the 2017 Democracy Award.