CEMI - Centar za monitoring i istraživanje

The reaction of the "EQUALLY" coalition to RTCG's reporting on the Law on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity on the Basis of Self-Determination

20. Mar. 2024. in news

The coalition of non-governmental organizations "Equally" expresses its concern about the uncritical and unbalanced reporting of the RTCG public service on the Law on legal recognition of gender identity based on self-determination, whereby RTCG violates Article 9 of the Law on the National Public Broadcaster Radio and Television of Montenegro, which guarantees compliance with professional standards. Among other things, these standards include: strengthening of social cohesion, balanced reporting, contribution to respect and improvement of human rights, democratic values and institutions, promotion and support of civil society values and presentation of civil initiatives, impartial, accurate, timely, comprehensible and balanced information about domestic and international events of public interest, and reporting on current life problems of various structures of Montenegrin society.

The concrete violation of professional standards is evident in the recent broadcast of the announcement of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral (MCP) in connection with the Draft Law on legal recognition of gender identity based on self-determination. The announcement was broadcast on the news show "Dnevnik" on March 11th, 2024 at 7:30 p.m., edited by Jelena Otasevic, which was then broadcast on the RTCG portal. Given that no other actor was consulted, the Spektra Association filed a complaint with the RTCG Ombudsman, Danijela Popovic, on March 14th, 2024.

Despite this, RTCG continued to violate professional standards in the show "Arguments" broadcast on March 14th, 2024, on the topic "On coexistence in Montenegro, and how religious communities contribute to peace and tolerance". Joanikije, Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral, Rifat Fejzic, Head of the Islamic Community, Rok Djonlesaj, Archbishop of Bar and Luciano Mose Prelevic, Chief Rabbi of Montenegro, were guests in the show.

During the aforementioned show, the editor Ivana Popovic asked a question about the Draft Law, but she incorrectly quoted its name. Asking the question, "You from the Metropolis recently spoke about this alleged Draft Law that appeared in the media, which would include a possible change of gender and social security number. Why did you first speak out on that occasion and is it interference in state affairs?", she implied the wrong content and essence of the Draft Law, because it deals with the administrative change of gender marking and social security number, and not the issue of gender change, which is regulated yet 2012 by the Law on Health Insurance.

In addition, this approach sent a message to the public that religious communities have a high level of relevance in passing laws concerning human rights, which is a direct violation of the principle of secularity of society.

After the show, the stream of the show was broadcast on the RTCG portal in the form of an announcement titled "Both the state and religious communities care about the same people", which, once again, gave religious communities legitimacy to deal with state issues. However, during the transfer to the portal, the editor's question was corrected, and the name of the Draft Law was used in the correct way, which violated the fidelity to the course of the conversation. Also, in the publication, only a quote from Metropolitan Ioanniki, who opposes the Draft Law, is visible: "Commenting on the Draft Law on Legal Recognition of Gender Identity on the Basis of Self-Determination, the Metropolitan said that religions should be heard when laws are enacted that to some extent encroach on religious feelings and heritage." In addition, his factually unfounded statement based on misinformation was cited: "Cases of sex change are quite rare and we understand such people. But encouraging a person to such an unnatural dilemma is really dangerous because they are dealing with minors. It is known that those who change their gender later have problems, they want to return to their original state, incurable traumas occur, suicides occur... Don't we already have enough problems, but do we want more? We must, for pastoral reasons, have a position on this and it must be heard', he told TVCG.

On this occasion, we invite the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms to launch an initiative to determine discrimination and violations of human rights. Also, we appeal to the Electronic Media Agency to investigate a possible violation of the Law on the National Broadcaster by the public broadcaster Radio and Television of Montenegro. We welcome the announcement by Milica Spajak, a member of the RTCG Council, that she will address the issue raised with the RTCG Ombudsman, in relation to the unbalanced reporting in the news show "Dnevnik", and we invite her to do the same in relation to the issue of the show "Arguments".

We invite the Public Service to improve its editorial policy and make efforts in order to provide an adequate media space, in which the principle of the secularity of Montenegro and human rights will be respected, and to develop a discussion that will adequately inform citizens about the importance of adopting the Law on Legal Recognition gender identity based on self-determination for the entire society, and its contribution to the improvement of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in Montenegro.

Spektra Association

NGO Juventas

Montenegrin women's lobby

NGO Link

Active zone

NGO Prima

Center for Women's Rights

Stana LBTQ Women Association


LGBTIQ Association Queer Montenegro

Center for Civic Education (CGO)



Human Rights Action