A UNESCO-protected small town with a rich history and cultural heritage, Kotor is an attractive destination with a lot to offer.
The name itself, in the Greek variant Decaterum, appears in records from the 7th century and has since been known as a city of multi-harmony, openness and acceptance of differences in all matters.
In 2014, the Municipality of Kotor was the first municipality in Montenegro to sign a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights to improve the status and rights of LGBTQIA+ persons. Since 2020, it has been a proud member of the Rainbow Cities Network, a global network for LGBTQIA+ equality.
In order to maintain the status of a city with an open approach when it comes to acceptance of diversity, especially in the direction of improving the rights of vulnerable social groups, the municipality of Kotor focused on improving the rights and living conditions of the LGBTQAI+ community.
The story and intentions on this issue found their way to the local population through the tourism aspect, from which many residents earn, live, and what dictates their way of life for 10 months a year now.
In this way, being on the rainbow cities map, the local population also feels the benefits, and there is hope that community members from these areas will be encouraged and recognize the municipality as their partner.
The goal is to educate people to accept differences and to create a more open society without stereotypes and prejudice toward the LGBTQIA+ community. Also, the aim is to create a network with NGOs, security services, health and educational institutions in order to promote and protect the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Key focus areas are:
One of the stories that marked the city in the region and beyond is the arrival of the first "gay" cruise ship in 2013, which was accompanied by different impressions, but most of the comments were directed towards the fact that Kotor passed the test and confirmed that it can be found in the group of civilized modern cities of Europe.
The municipality of Kotor is the first local self-government to sign an agreement with the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights on cooperation in improving the position and protection of LGBTQIA+ persons back in 2014. With this, Kotor committed themselves to making further work in this area more intensive. The agreement obliged the city to create a local action plan for improving the quality of life of LGBTQIA+ people. It is actually a way and model of creating LGBTQIA+ policies at the local level that, through a set of activities and actions, works towards the primary goal, which is the improvement of the quality of life, through various aspects of life.
After that, in an administrative sense, an official for issues of the LGBTQIA+ community was appointed in the municipal Secretariat for Culture, Sports, and Social Activities.
Finally, it brought the title of member of the Rainbow Cities to the Municipality of Kotor. The desire to step forward in the field of LGBTQIA+ politics here in the Balkans, which is full of specifics, political will, and the motivation of the administration, led to the fact that contact with the Rainbow Cities Network resulted in this outcome.
Being part of the Rainbow City network brings many benefits. The recognition of Kotor, a small bay city, as a place that has been marked as the safest location for LGBTQIA+ tourists in Montenegro brings tourists with high paying power, from which the whole town profits. Such characteristics put Kotor on many world lists, which the city is proud of.
The sustainability of this practice cannot be taken for granted and also faces hurdles:
What is perhaps "comforting" and what the leaders of Kotor realised after the meetings and events organised by the Rainbow City Network is that similar problems still exist in more modern and larger cities as well. However, the responses to the demands and needs of the LGBTQIA+ community there are faster, well designed, more networked and cross-sectoral due to the number and intensity of initiatives, and can be implemented by multiple stakeholders.
Despite the openness, Kotor's services have not yet had any direct contact with the LGBTQIA+ community about whether their rights are sufficiently protected. But there have also been no negative or undesirable situations in Kotor, especially in relation to threats to rights, safety and health.
With the message that the support is there and that Kotor is ready for it, the city is making its way from a medieval town to a city that has reached its highly positioned place on the map of rainbow cities.
Website of Kotor: https://www.kotor.me/
Rainbow Cities Network: https://www.rainbowcities.com/
Empowering Municipalities to Protect the LGBTQIA+ Community
Review of the virtual Insight Session of 4 June 2023
Stadtverwaltung von Kotor
Sekretariat für Kultur, Sport und soziale Aktivitäten