Response to the parliamentary question on new anti-discrimination law in Macedonia

The European Commission has responded to an earlier parliamentary question from the Intergroup concerning Macedonia’s new anti-discrimination law:

Commissioner Štefan FüleThe Commission has called upon the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in line with the acquis. As correctly pointed out by the Honourable Members, the anti-discrimination rules established in the EU’s legal order – through Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78 – concern discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability. The Commission expects the country to comply with the EU requirements in all these fields. The Commission considers that in order to meet these requirements the antidiscrimination legislation should include explicit prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. The Commission is informed that a bill for a general framework law was submitted to Parliament and that it has been adopted in the first reading. The Commission is currently examining a translation of this bill. A preliminary analysis suggests that several provisions of the current proposal do not meet fully the EU requirements. In particular, the law will need to explicitly recognise sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination.

The Commission is following the debate in Parliament and is encouraging the country to adopt as soon as possible a law which is fully in line with EU rules on anti-discrimination and includes explicit prohibition of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, considering that this would be a significant step forward in the EU accession process. The existing level of protection against discrimination will continue to be assessed in the progress reports and will be included, if necessary, in future accession negotiations.

According to information received by the Commission, civil society groups were represented in the working group in charge of drafting the general framework law. The draft law, as approved by the Government, was published on the Parliament’s website on Monday 8 February 2010, as well as on the website of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy. On 18 February 2010, the “National coordinating body for non-discrimination” held a meeting on the draft law with the participation of representatives of civil society. On 22 February 2010, a public debate on the anti-discrimination law was organised by the Parliament’s “standing committee for the protection of civil freedoms and rights”. Representatives of civil society, notably of the organisations “Macedonia without Discrimination” and “Open Society”, participated actively. Both organisations have presented concrete proposals for amendments.

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