Macedonia backtracks on protection from discrimination for sexual minorities

Former Yugoslav Republic of MacedoniaThe Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia today announced a revised proposal for anti-discrimination legislation that will not refer to sexual orientation in the list of covered grounds.

Deputy Minister for Social Policy Spiro Ristovski confirmed the change from earlier drafts, assuring that lesbian, gay and bisexual people would still benefit from the protection guaranteed to all citizens by the proposed law, under the heading of “other grounds” of discrimination.

The move has angered Macedonian LGBT activists, and came after earlier drafts included sexual orientation in their provisions. The government is understood to have bowed to pressure from national conservative groups, who assimilated anti-discrimination measures to same-sex marriage and adoption.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, declared today: “If Macedonia is serious about joining the European Union, it must ensure that its laws match those of the European Union—and that explicitly includes non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. There is no opt-out on fundamental rights.”

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, argued that the move was “unacceptable coming from a candidate country”, and did not comply with EU anti-discrimination standards. She continued: “The government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has to acknowledge that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are protected from discrimination in the European Union. We urge the Macedonian government to reconsider their draft. Otherwise, we call on the Parliament to take a strong and explicit stance for the right to non-discrimination of all Macedonian citizens’—including LGBT people.”

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is a candidate country to enter the European Union since 2005. Periodic reports on accession progress include the situation for sexual and gender minorities.