Ruling party MP Slated for Homophobic Attack on Artwork Bought by Govt

Government MP was accused of homophobia over his attack on a photo bought by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

A picture, “Valentine’s Day”, taken in 2014 and bought by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports  for 10,000 euros, shows two couples of girls kissing. 

The work was presented at the National Gallery as part of an exhibition of the works of artists purchased by the Ministry.

But an MP of the governing Vetëvendosje Movement, Gramos Agusholli, on Thursday last week called the work bought by the ministry absurd and offensive.

“For this photo, 10,000 euros have been allocated from the budget of Kosovo. Our taxes finance this ‘art’ project. The tendency to violently ‘normalize’ one’s sexuality is absurd. It is psychological violence to us and our children. No one on this earth cares what you do in your homes. Why do you believe you have so much relevance?” he asked on Facebook.

Agusholli also stated that he doesn’t care about “cancel culture”, pressure, blackmail and insults, regarding his post.

The post was also shared by two other LVV MPs, Eman Rrahmani and Visar Korenica. 

Agusholli refused to answer Prishtina Insight’s questions about what prompted him to react to this work of art in this way.

The Haveit collective, the authors of the work, told BIRN that it was unfortunate that there are homophobic deputies in the Assembly of Kosovo.

“We are sorry that there are homophobic people in the parliament  who find space to vomit their bile wherever they can,” Haveit said.

To the Haveit collective, the fact that their art has made it even in the state archive shows what influence and power the photo has.

“The message of the photo is that love always triumphs, which is why we received many death threats that year. The impact of our work is so great that even today it ‘shocks’ society, which suggests that we have moved forward very little,” Haveit told BIRN.

The creator, Dardan Zhegrova, says the photo continues to highlight the homophobia of deputies.

“The homophobia of MPs Gramos Agusholli, Eman Rrahmani and Visar Korenica, expressed freely and proudly about this photo, is just one more open manifestation of homophobia after the latest one – when MPs did not allow approval of the draft civil code,”  Zhegrova wrote on Facebook.

Activist and researcher on gender issues Shqipe Gjocaj told Prishtina Insight that intolerant views towards LGBT people are reinforced when people with certain profiles use their platforms to express their views.

“The statement of Gramos Agusholli is the definition of adding fuel to the fire. Intolerant societal views towards the LGBT community are reinforced every time people with certain profiles, particularly those with governmental or institutional positions, and especially heterosexual men who exercise patriarchal power and privileges and at the same time possess wider communication platforms with their constituencies, take to the floor to ‘express’ their views,” Gjocaj said.

Gjocaj added that whenever these people make an effort to quasi-criticize a marginalized community like the LGBT one, a community prone to abuse and violence, both domestically and beyond, it automatically sends hate towards the community and their families.

She added that when politicians share anti-LGBT statements they get support from religious groups and also from wider society with similar views.

“When politicians or people with power of any kind make anti-LGBT statements, they will get the aggressive support not only of religious groups but also the support of the of wider society who commonly claim that LGBT people should not be visible in public spaces. That is how extreme right-wing rhetoric is reinforced and used as a weapon against the community, by aiming to silence and intimidate it,” Gjocaj emphasized.

In March of this year, the assembly failed to vote on the draft law on Civil Code, due to the lack of support for an article that would have established a new law for registering civil unions between people of the same gender. 

The government is expected to give another push to the civil code in parliament in the coming weeks, declaring that they will change the article that regulates marriages. 

The photo, “Valentine’s Day”, was taken in 2014 for Valentine’s Day. The girls in the photo are four artists from Prishtina, two couples of sisters; Vesa and Hana Qena and Alkete and Lola Sylaj, who formed the collective Haveit in 2011 as an artistic reaction to the events in Kosovo.

and 29/12/2022 - 15:20

29 December 2022 - 15:20

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.