Drop-in Center Opened for LGBT Community in Downtown Podgorica

By , 16 Sep 2019, 15:28 PM Lifestyle
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The Drop-in Center for the LGBT community was opened at a new location in the center of Podgorica, making it more visible in Montenegrin society, and will provide psychological, peer, and physician support to improve the social and health circumstances of that community.

The program director at the non-governmental organization Juventas, Jelena Colakovic, said at the opening of the new Center that the social and political climate in Montenegro has changed since the opening of the first Drop-in Center in 2011.

“The context in which we are now going to work is different compared to 2011, when we started and when we had considerable difficulties, that is, when the political and social climate was much more hostile to this topic, as well as to LGBT people themselves. It was not very pleasant, but now it is different, and now we have many more people who have come out and who, by their example, showed that freedom is a beautiful thing," Colakovic said.

She said Drop-in Center would be open from 10 am to 10 pm.

"The Dro-in Center will be accessible to young people, but not only to young people, but also to all those with equality, respect, love, values that they advocate. For all people, the Center is fully open and we want them to be our guests, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or any other difference that characterizes us and makes the society richer and more beautiful," said Colakovic.

She said the Drop-in Center, as a social health service, has a mission to advance the social and health circumstances of the LGBT community.

“We will continue to have psychological support, physician support, but also peer support, that is, community support for all who wish to come, as well as their family and friends, but also life partners. Everyone who wants to practice safe sexual intercourse will be able to take condoms and lubricants in our facilities, and it will be followed by consultations which will be a part of the service," explained Colakovic.

President of the Board of Directors of Queer Montenegro, Danijel Kalezic, stated that the Drop-in Center had been the most significant place for the LGBT community for nine years, since it was first opened.

"Since 2011, when the first Drop-in Center opened, it was the only meeting place where we all discreetly gathered and began to grow as a community. At that Juventas Center, we were empowering, connecting, sharing many beautiful moments, but also being there for each other in less beautiful moments as one big family," said Kalezic.

He stated that the Drop-in Center was important for the LGBT community because there they worked on organizing the first Montenegro Pride.

"It is also the place at which the Queer Brigade was created as an informal group that preceded Queer Montenegro. The first trans organization Spektra also arouse from this place, Pride has been born of from all of this, and since the first day and the announcement it has been stored in the Center, in different locations, up to the moment when we stopped being in more hidden places," Kalezic said.

The Deputy Mayor of the Capital, Sladjana Vujacic, said that the opening of the new Drop in Center was extremely important for the Capital, which, she said, was a step forward towards respect for human rights.

"It's remarkable that this Drop-in is right in the heart of the city. Significant steps have been taken a few years back and today we have fewer challenges when it comes to this topic, which is definitely no longer taboo," said Vujacic.

She urged the citizens of the Capital to visit the Drop-in Center, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or national differences.

"I think this will be a new, beautiful gathering place in the Capital, whose significance will be multifaceted - educational, social, psychological, and it will also be a place for the pleasure and socializing of our fellow citizens," Vujacic said.

The secretary of the Ministry of Health of Montenegro, Nikola Antovic, said that the department and the Government of Montenegro support all activities that mean the promotion of human rights and the integration of all members of society in the community.

"This Center will carry out certain public health activities supported through projects developed and implemented by the Ministry of Health. We will continue to be committed to strengthening and respecting human rights, and we hope that such centers will be open to all citizens," Antovic said.

He estimated that the newly opened Drop-in Center would improve the status of all visitors.

The director of the Women's Rights Center, Maja Raicevic, said that it was important that the newly opened Drop in Center was located in the city center, because that way, she said, the members of that population were more visible in the Montenegrin society.

"It is very important that such organizations and institutions are centrally located in the city so that young people belonging to this community, as well as those who actively advocate for human rights, are more visible. In this way, this story can be further promoted and indicate that the capital recognizes the importance of these rights, ”Raicevic said.

Text by Vijesti online, on September 13th, 2019, read more at Vijesti

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