Macedonia must protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people, says the European Parliament

Today the European Parliament adopted its annual progress report on the accession of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the European Union, asking the country to outlaw discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Macedonian flagIn January 2010, the Macedonian government had removed sexual orientation from the list of protected grounds in its new anti-discrimination law. Members of the European Parliament had protested, and the European Commission had reminded the eastern Republic that EU accession was conditional upon anti-discrimination laws including sexual orientation.

The resolution adopted today by an overwhelming majority of MEPs “regrets that, contrary to European legislation, sexual orientation has been omitted from the law as a ground for discrimination.” The European Parliament further “calls for the swift alignment of national provisions in this field with [EU law] and for strengthening of the monitoring mechanisms, and emphasises that this is a prerequisite for accession” to the European Union.

Unfortunately, the European Parliament resolution stopped short of recommending a ban on discrimination on grounds of gender identity.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “I took part in a hearing on this law in the Macedonian Parliament in February 2010, and my message remains the same: politics based on misinformed fear is wrong and plainly misguided. Anti-discrimination laws are a central pillar of equal societies, and non-discrimination is a fundamental right in the EU. Macedonia must stop averting its eyes from minorities, and provide full protection to all citizens—without exception.”

Her fellow Co-President, Michael Cashman MEP, further commented: “There is literally no way around this: entering the European Union will require amending the anti-discrimination law to protect all people, hopefully in as many fields as possible. I call on my Socialist colleagues in Skopje to embrace our shared values of fairness and equality, and stand up for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Macedonia.”

Today’s resolution further expressed concern in the field of equality, including a weak National Commission for Protection Against Discrimination and lower effective rights for women in the country.