Balkan states told to improve on LGBT rights before joining EU

The European Parliament have advised countries joining the EU to adopt legislation against discrimination of LGBT citizens

Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have been told they should improve LGBT rights ahed of joining the European Union.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have voted in favour of reports encouraging Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina to enforce legislation defending the rights of LGBT citizens.

These recent reports complete an annual roundup conducted by the parliamentary intergroup dedicated to monitoring the progress of LGBT rights.

MEPs welcomed positive developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where a new support office for the LGBT community was opened in 2012, but expressed ‘concern at the act of vandalism committed against it’ following its opening.

On the night of 24 October 2012, the office of the newly established Support Center for the LGBTI Community in the capital Skopje was stoned and several windows broken.

According to police, the attack was perpetrated by three masked people.

MEPs also encouraged politicians in Macedonia to condemn homophobia more vocally, and regretted the Macedonian media’s ongoing anti-LGBT discourse.

On 12 October 2012, the Macedonian Minister for Social Affairs, took the opportunity at a UNICEF conference to state his opposition to equal marriage for LGBT people.

He subsequently reiterated his position on a national TV station, and later on his personal Facebook page. President Nikola Gruevski also criticized calls for marriage equality by linking it to falling birth rates.

Regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, MEPs advised anti-discrimination laws and policies should be better enforced. They expressed concerns about ‘hate speech, threats and harassment directed at LGBT people’, and said efforts must continue to achieve ‘an inclusive and tolerant society’.

In the report more generally on the Western Balkans, MEPs were concerned to learn that women who defend LGBT rights ‘are regular targets of hate speech, threats and physical attacks’.

Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the LGBT intergroup commented: ‘It’s fortunate that fundamental rights keep progressing – albeit slowly – in the Western Balkans, which are an integral part of our European family.

‘The Council of Europe’s work on LGBT rights has been particularly helpful, and I hope national leadership can begin to emerge on these issues in the coming years.’

by Thomas Jones
Source – Gay Star News