SEE Q Network, a regional network of LGBTIQ activists and representatives of 18 LGBT organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo/a, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia. The respective organizations and individuals are some of the leading LGBTIQ activists and experts, who are addressing human rights and specific needs of the Community in former Yugoslav region. Many of those needs are common for the whole region, due to historical, cultural, linguistic and socio-political reasons.
Founded in September of 2003, SEE Q Network represents a joint effort in addressing LGBTIQ human rights both on regional and international levels. Its principles are based on (queer) Feminism and culture of non-violence and mutual tolerance and understanding, objecting any and all forms of sexism, racism, nationalism, genderphobia, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, and intolerance based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, biological, social, physical, cultural, psychological, (inter)sex, and other characteristics. Its vision is to create a strong network of LGBTIQ activists and organizations cooperating on projects of mutual concern and interest leading toward a regional LGBTIQ movement that will act politically, culturally and professionally in regards to human rights of LGBTIQ persons in a public policy oriented manner both locally and globally. Furthermore, the Network supports policies and agendas of each individual organization inh the region and does not compromise existing ongoing work and objectives.
Macedonia Gay Rights Organization: http://www.cgcp.org.mk/en
We are a newly established organisation, the first – and so far the only – of its type in the Republic of Macedonia, exclusively devoted to serving the needs and advocating on behalf of LGBT community. We are a non-profit and non-governmental association, organised on the principle of voluntary membership. Our members allied their forces in order to establish mutual cooperation in the area of civil and human rights, and in association with other local and international organisations to further our common goals. We are lawyers, journalists, economists, political scientists, psychologists, social care workers, and other dedicated professionals of different nationalities and diverse backgrounds.
January 9, 2004 – Advocate.com
U.S. rebukes gay rights group in Macedonia
The United States rebuked a Macedonian advocacy group on Thursday for placing the seal of the U.S. embassy in Skopje on billboards promoting the acceptance of homosexuality in Macedonia,
Agence France-Presse reports.
The State Department said the embassy had not given permission for the seal to be used on the billboards and insisted that Washington had neither paid for the signs nor necessarily endorsed their message. "The Center for Civil and Human Rights...inappropriately used the seal of the U.S. embassy on a number of billboards as well as posters and brochures, the contents of which were not reviewed or approved by the United States," said Kurtis Cooper, a department spokesman. "The billboards have been taken down."
Cooper said the State Department had awarded a $20,000 grant to the group in August 2002 but that that funding had gone to support a program that provides legal assistance and counseling to victims of discrimination. The roadside signs, erected in Skopje and at least one other Macedonian city, created a furor among conservatives in the United States, who accused the embassy and the State Department of using U.S. taxpayers’ money to promote the "homosexual agenda" in the Balkan nation.
On Tuesday, a columnist for the conservative National Review labeled the signs as "graphic," including photographs of same-sex embraces and one group of two women and a man resembling Jesus. The billboards read, "Face Reality, The Campaign to Promote the Rights of Sexual Minorities," and bore the embassy seal in their lower right-hand corners, columnist Kerri Houston reported.
"It seems that in Macedonia at least, support for the homosexual agenda has become the official position of the U.S. State Department," she wrote. Cooper denied that charge. "U.S. policies and programs do not promote homosexuality," he said, stressing that the initial grant to the group was provided to promote tolerance. "Discrimination against and maltreatment of minorities, including those practices on the basis of sexual orientation is…a matter of concern. The project in Macedonia is consistent with our policy of supporting tolerance and human dignity."
Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski also weighed in on the matter, telling the National Review he was "appalled to see that the embassy of the United States of America would sponsor something such as this in Macedonia." "U.S. taxpayer funds should not be used to promote alternative lifestyles in my country, and I do not believe that most Americans would appreciate this," the Review quoted Trajkovski as saying. The president added that the billboards were "deeply offensive" to most of Macedonia’s population, which he identified as "a very conservative mix of the Orthodox Christian and Muslim faiths." Polls have shown that the vast majority of Macedonians disapprove of homosexuality, with many believing it is a disease.
Macedonian Gays Come Out from Shadows: Once an invisible minority, Macedonia’s small lesbian and gay community is becoming assertive
by Ana Petruseva and Mitko Jovanov in Skopje (BCR No 481, 19-Feb-04)
The crowded café may seem like many others in Skopje but the couples holding hands and kissing on Valentine’s Day are not a common sight, for nearly all are men. Under a dim red light, they were celebrating the second anniversary of the Centre for Civil and Human Rights, the only organisation in Macedonia specifically concerned with promoting gay and lesbian rights.
While the atmosphere inside was cosy and relaxed, the climate outside remains frosty towards gays and lesbians, who have to rely on subterfuge and deception to avoid the hatred of this homophobic society.
Aleksandar and Goran are young, educated and much-travelled. As well off professionals in London, New York or Paris, they should have everything going for them–- and they would have, if they lived in London, New York or Paris. But in a conservative Balkan society where most people look on homosexuality as a disease, they have to lie to get by. The stakes are high. "Word spreads fast and if people found out we could lose our jobs and bring suffering and embarrassment to our parents," said Goran, 26.
Whereas most homosexual couples lead double lives, Aleksandar and Goran have lived together for three years. Aleksandar`s parents know they are gay and so do their friends. Their relationship has already cost them their home. "We lived in a luxurious apartment and paid a high rent," Aleksandar recalled. "But once the landlord found out we were a couple, we were evicted. He said, ‘I know about you and I don’t want people like you living in my apartment’." After months of searching for a new place (one man refused to rent them an apartment with a double bed), they asked a female friend to act the part of Aleksandar’s partner. "She posed as my girlfriend just so I could rent an apartment," he said.
Macedonia shares the general climate of Balkan intolerance towards same-sex relationships. Jail terms for homosexuality were scrapped in 1996, but society’s attitudes have barely inched forward since then. Over the past years, gay bars have opened – only to close as soon as the outside world learned about them. "Hooligans used to wait for us outside the bar. A few of our friends were badly beaten," Goran said.
To add to the pressure, the police regularly raid the cruising areas around the capital where homosexuals like to meet up.
Society remains hostile. A survey by the Centre for Civil and Human Rights in 2002 showed over 80 per cent saw homosexuality as a danger to the family and as a psychiatric disorder. About 65 per cent described being Gay as a crime that warranted a jail term.
Cvetan Janev, 59, from the Skopje suburbs, told IWPR that talk of sexual rights infuriated him. "How can you talk about the rights of people with a distorted sexual orientation?" he fumed. "These are sick people. Sexual rights are an invention of western European societies. They are trying to legalise a perversion."
Ninoslav Mladenovic, head of the Centre for Civil and Human Rights, describes gays and lesbians as "one of the most invisible minorities in Macedonia, living in constant fear of humiliation, public disgrace and physical attacks". Some advocates of better treatment for gays blame the lack of education about sexuality at both the school and university level. "We have eminent professors from the Medical Faculty in Skopje teaching students from literature that treats homosexuality as a disease," said Mirjana Najcevska, of the Helsinki human rights committee. "And we have Professor Olga Skaric from the Faculty of Philosophy who published a book in 2001 in which she defined homosexuality as a disease."
Najcevska said matters were changing, following a controversial billboard campaign sponsored by the US embassy <not> and International Centre Olaf Palme, which sparked a fresh debate over homosexual rights. The billboards, put up by the Centre for Civil and Human Rights, portrayed a variety of men and women beside the slogan, "Face Diversity: Campaign to Promote the Rights of Sexual Minorities".
The billboards did not provoke much reaction until a conservative US magazine, the National Review Online, in January accused the US embassy in Macedonia of pushing gay agenda, quoting a supportive Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski as saying US taxes ought not to go "towards promoting alternative lifestyles in my country", as they were "deeply offensive to most people in Macedonia, which represents a very conservative mix of the Orthodox Christian and Muslim faiths".
The president’s remarks provoked an unprecedented debate in the local media, with the daily newspaper Dnevnik publishing a critical editorial, which asked, "When will Trajkovski face diversity?" The Centre for Civil and Human Rights has stepped up its activities, staging a conference on gay problems in Macedonia last November, which drew representatives from the Balkan states, Britain, the US, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden.
Although few local gays or lesbians took part, mainly for fear of being recognised on television, organisers claimed that the holding of such an event was a victory. "We managed to open a debate, which was the whole point," said Ninoslav Mladenovic. He is now planning Macedonia’s first gay and lesbian film festival. Despite these flickers of assertiveness, many homosexuals will remain reluctant to come out. The country’s poor economy keeps them dependent on their parents, as do strong family ties.
Aleksandar says he and his partner still have to watch out. They avoid any public display of physical affection that might draw attention to their lifestyle. But they claim the city is becoming more liberal and believe time is on their side.
"We are lucky because we are both well off and have lots of gay and straight friends who have accepted us," said Aleksandar.
• Ana Petrusheva is IWPR’s Macedonia project manager, Mitko Jovanov is a journalist with daily Dnevnik.
Male prostitution in Macedonia–A man for 50 euros
by Petre Dimitrov
You can find male prostitutes in the gathering places of homosexuals, on the Internet, through dating services, massage parlors, various clubs and cafes.
What’s scary is that very few of them use any protection in their sexual contacts. According to the statements of male prostitutes, they usually have sexual intercourse with men and women alike. This doubles the risk of transmitting sexually transmitted diseases. MOI officials state that there is information about the existence of male prostitution, but they cannot do anything about it because they lack evidence. So far no cases of male prostitution have been officially recorded.
After making a couple of rounds, the car pulled up and stopped near Ali, who was constantly looking at his watch and pretended to be waiting for somebody. Ali had a brief conversation with the driver – an adult male in his 40s – and entered the car. Half an hour later they came back, with Ali stepping out of the car and taking a position at the same spot. He continued to wait.
“ My family’s poor and I’m left on my own. I’ve been coming here for a year now. So far, this has been my only way of making any money. I don’t earn much. Sometimes I go with a guy for only 100 denars. I provide various services, depending on my client’s wishes. I have no choice”, says Ali (18), from Skopje.
The place where we met Ali is located in the centre of Skopje. It’s an open secret that at night this place is frequented by men in search of other men to satisfy their sexual needs or to hang out with. While working on this story, we had the opportunity of meeting several other individuals who request money for their services. There were those who didn’t emphasize their financial state as a motive, too. Male prostitutes’ clients are of different profiles and age, ranging from ordinary workers to famous public figures. Female prostitutes are “located” in the vicinity.
Macedonia has organized male prostitution
“ This whole thing started off as a joke, eventually turning into a profession of mine. I knew these two girls who offered sexual services, to foreigners only, making quite a lot of money. On several occasions, they’ve offered me to work with them, because there’s a growing demand for men on ‘the market’”, says Dejan (25), a student from Veles.
“ My first experience was like a scene from a movie. One of these girlfriends arranged a meeting for me with their pimps, a man and a woman – later on I found out they work in the Ministry of Interior (MOI). They picked me up for a ride in their car and took me to a flat in Cair. The flat was rather big, with a couple of bedrooms. In my “bedroom” there was an older gentleman waiting for me. A box filled with condoms and lubricants was placed near the bed. After I finished with him, the man and the woman drove me back home. Later on, I had all sorts of clients, both male and female. The arrangements I made over the cell phone that they gave me”, says Dejan. Regarding these statements that MOI employees are directly involved in prostitution, MOI officials have an unequivocal position: “We have no such information”.
Kapital (research organization) has information that there’re several forms of organized male prostitution in Macedonia, mainly taking place in Skopje. According to Kapital’s information, the clients are mostly foreigners, but the number of domestic “users” is not that small, either. Prices for the services reach over 50 euros per hour. The most common forms of organized prostitution are through dating agencies, massage parlors and “pension” prostitution.
“ The system of male prostitution by way of dating agencies is very simple. With the owners’ approval, I publish an ad saying that I offer sexual services to men or women. Those who respond to the ads wishing to get in touch with me are being requested to pay a certain sum for the service, as well as an additional sum of money that I split with the owners of the agency. Everything’s clean. I’m not allowed to make arrangements with the clients on my own; it all has to go through the owners. However, I don’t follow that rule”, says Toni (30), from Skopje.
Borce, who is a student from Strumica, works at a massage parlor in Centar, in order to be able to pay his rent and lead the lifestyle he desires. “ The parlor I work in officially provides various types of massage and beauty treatments. Erotic massage (involving sexual contact with the clients), performed by me and two more girls working with me, is not mentioned anywhere. It is our mistress who finds us the clients, and everything’s quite discrete”, says Borce.
On the issue of how the pension prostitution system operates we spoke to several people directly involved in the prostitution business. Three small boarding houses, located in the Old Bazaar, Taftalidze and Centar in Skopje, offer male and female prostitution. According to the people we interviewed, the owners of the boarding houses are also involved in this, allowing prostitution in their facilities for a portion of the earnings.
Ministry of Interior knows it all, but has no evidence
MOI officials informed us that they have new insight regarding these forms of male prostitution, but they cannot operate at present, since they lack specific evidence and information. “ We keep track of all developments in this area, by means of calls, letters, and following information from the media. We’re aware of the existence of certain forms of male prostitution in the country, but at the moment we have no evidence to prove that and to find elements for bringing charges”, says Sanija Burageva, head of the General Crimes Department at the MOI. So far, there haven’t been any officially recorded cases of male prostitution in Macedonia. This year, the MOI expects a change in the Law on Criminal Procedures, which would enable the police to act in secrecy. They feel that this would contribute to increasing their effectiveness in recording the forms and individuals involved in prostitution.
80% of the people we spoke to don’t use condoms
The most astonishing thing we discovered during the course of this investigation is that the majority of those involved in male prostitution don’t use condoms. 80% of the people Kapital spoke to use no condoms. For some of them using condoms feels unnatural, part of them forget to use them, and some say their clients object to using condoms. Another devastating piece of information is that no institution or non-governmental organization in this country has any contacts with male prostitutes, and so far no one has done anything for their health care and education. The majority of the people we interviewed are having sexual contacts with both men and women, which doubles the chance for spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
40% of the sexually active female population has sexually transmitted diseases
The number of people in Macedonia infected with some of the sexually transmitted diseases is constantly on the rise. According to the physicians, the increase is a result of the frequent change of partners and the lack of using adequate protection. “ 40% of the female population with an active sexual life has sexually transmitted diseases. This is a result of the increase in the sexual activity of the young population, who often uses no protection during sexual contacts’, says Dr. Slobodan Drakuleski of the specialized hospital “Mala Bogorodica”, who is a specialist in gynecology.
Male prostitution also moves to the Internet
If you take a stroll through Macedonian cyberspace, you’re bound to come across a great deal of ads, openly offering sex for a certain sum of money, the most common being 50 euros. Men look for women or men, couples and vice versa. Female prostitution has long ago moved on the Internet, and lately this has also been the case with male prostitution. The more sophisticated form, when it comes to male prostitution, is the several MIRC channels: the gay channels gay macedonia and mkd-lgbt as well as the general macedonia.
MOI is aware of these forms of prostitution, but at the moment it hasn’t the equipment to track prostitution over the Internet.
My clients are mostly housewives
Goran (27), resident of Tetovo, says that on account of his great looks there isn’t a single woman who wouldn’t like to have him in bed, even for money. He doesn’t consider himself a male prostitute, even though that’s what he does for a living. Up until a year ago he used to strip in several clubs in Skopje, and know he makes his money solely out of prostitution. He finds the clients himself, in clubs, cafes, any place with an interesting nightlife. “ I don’t want any contacts with men, but I adore women. In my estimate, I’ve slept with over 200 women for money, from all over Macedonia. I’ve had contacts to all sorts of women, mostly housewives, whose husbands don’t have time for them”, says Goran.
September 12, 2008 – PinkNews
Macedonia should recognise same-sex couples says rights commissioner
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has published a report into the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Macedonia. Thomas Hammarberg said that the "atmosphere and attitude towards LGBT persons" in the former Yugoslav Republic has improved. However, he concluded that certain persisting discriminatory attitudes exist at all levels, and legal safeguards are insufficient. "Legal protections against discrimination remain particularly weak," he said.
"Currently, there are limited specific legal protection provisions available for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity. The Law on Military Service was amended and took out the prohibition for homosexuals to serve. Moreover, a recent amendment to the Law on Work Relations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a welcome positive legislative change albeit with a narrow scope of application."
Mr Hammarberg said that the lack of a law against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes should be considered, along with Constitutional protection on the grounds of sexual orientation. "The Commissioner has been made aware of instances of apparent discriminatory attitudes towards the LGBT community by local authorities," the report stated. "Education is the key to informing and developing a culture of tolerance and inclusiveness. Human rights education programmes should be developed and expanded for Governmental officials including police officers and judicial officials at all levels, and also for school-going students.
"There should be a possibility of legal recognition of same sex partnership." Thomas Hammarberg was elected to the post of Commissioner for Human Rights in 2005 by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. The 47-member Council predates the European Union. It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.
February 10, 2009 – PinkNews.co.uk
Macedonian candidate for President claims gays face no discrimination
by Tony Grew
A leading candidate for President of Macedonia has claimed that discrimnation against gay and lesbian people is a myth. As a candidate country for EU membership, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will have to pass laws protecting sexual minorities from discrimination as part of the accession process.
Georgi Ivanov, a law professor and the Presidential candidate for the conservative governing party, VMRO DPMNE, started a row with his socialist opponent when he told a daily newspaper: "Our system discriminates against no-one. Homosexuals stigmatise themselves and think they are in an underprivileged position."
Asked to comment on the issue, the candidate backed by the main opposition Social Democrats, Ljubomir Frckosk, said he supported all groups that faced discrimination. "In general, I support the pluralism of life styles of the subculture groups – this is one of the cornerstones of today’s society," he said.
Macedonia has been a parliamentary democracy since 1991 and the President’s role is largely ceremonial. Seven candidates are standing in the election which will be held on March 22nd, at the same time as local elections. Mr Frchkosk is ahead in the polls. An EU report into LGBT rights in candidate countries published in November said progress was being made in Macedonia.
"We appreciate that the progress report on FYR Macedonia clearly refers to the fact that "the framework law on anti-discrimination has not yet been enacted" and that current legislation is not in line with EU acquis," said the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA-Europe). Acquis communautaire is the total body of EU law accumulated thus far. "ILGA-Europe is also pleased to notice that in contrary to 2007 progress report on Macedonia, in 2008 report the Commission makes explicit reference to the discrimination faced by LGBT people as well as urges that the envisaged national anti-discrimination strategy addresses discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity."
In September the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights published a report into the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Macedonia. Thomas Hammarberg said that the "atmosphere and attitude towards LGBT persons" in the former Yugoslav Republic has improved. However, he concluded that certain persisting discriminatory attitudes exist at all levels, and legal safeguards are insufficient.
"Legal protections against discrimination remain particularly weak," he said. "Currently, there are limited specific legal protection provisions available for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity. The Law on Military Service was amended and took out the prohibition for homosexuals to serve. Moreover, a recent amendment to the Law on Work Relations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a welcome positive legislative change albeit with a narrow scope of application."
Mr Hammarberg said that the lack of a law against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes should be considered, along with Constitutional protection on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The 47-member Council predates the European Union. It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights. In 2004 Macedonia fomally applied for EU membership and began the stabilisation and association process.
January 29, 2010 – UK Gay News
Macedonia Backtracks on Protection from Discrimination for Gays and Transgender People
Euro MPs hit out at change in proposed legislation
Brussels – The 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. “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,” MEP Michael Cashman, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, declared today.
The LGBT Rights Intergroup, which includes MEPs from most of the Parliament’s political groups, keeps a watchful eye on LGBT issues in the European Union, including applicant countries like Macedonia. Ulrike Lunacek MEP, the other Co-president of the Intergroup argued that the move was “unacceptable coming from a candidate country”, and did not comply with EU anti-discrimination standards.
“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,” she continued. “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.
February 3, 2010 – Human Rights Watch
Letter to the Prime Minister of Macedonia
Dear Prime Minister,
Human Rights Watch writes to you in concern over your government’s decision to deny effective protection based on sexual orientation and gender identity in a proposed new anti-discrimination law. As you are aware, Human Rights Watch is an independent organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. We investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable.
On January 29, 2010, the government of Macedonia announced a revised proposal for an anti-discrimination law. Although previous drafts had referred to "sexual direction" as ground protected against discrimination, in the present draft such reference has been eliminated.
The Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Mr. Xhelal Bajrami acknowledged this change, adding that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people could still ask for protection as the draft law also refers to "other grounds" of discrimination.
Human Rights Watch disagrees with this approach. Express mention of the grounds of discrimination is an essential measure toward eliminating unequal treatment. We urge you to change the draft law and make the anti-discrimination framework law compatible with international human rights standards.
The principles of non-discrimination and equality are at the foundation of the international human rights system, under which Macedonia has undertaken clear and obligatory commitments. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) establishes that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" (art. 1) and "everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind" (art. 2(1)). These principles are reiterated throughout the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other major treaties to which Macedonia is a party.
The principle of non- discrimination is thus a core treaty obligation and a non-derogable norm. The enjoyment of all the rights guaranteed under the core treaties without discrimination is not subject to progressive realization; it has been defined as an immediate obligation.
International law and standards prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination is therefore part of Macedonia’s duty-bound obligations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which your country acceded in 1994, affirms the equality of all people in articles 2 and 26. In the 1994 case of Nicholas Toonen v Australia, the Human Rights Committee, the international body of experts that monitors compliance with the ICCPR, found that both these provisions should be understood to include sexual orientation as a status protected against discrimination. Specifically it held that "reference to ‘sex’ in articles 2, para.1 and article 26 is to be taken as including sexual orientation."
Likewise, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the international body of experts that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Macedonia acceded in 1993 has also affirmed in its General Comments that the Convention’s prohibitions on discrimination (art.2) are taken to include "sexual orientation."
United Nations treaty bodies have expressed concern when governments like yours fail to include sexual orientation in their non- discrimination legislation. United Nations treaty bodies have commended governments which have passed non-discrimination legislation that includes sexual orientation. 
Macedonia is a party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In art. 14, the Convention prohibits discrimination in the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in the Convention. Macedonia was also one of the first countries in Europe to ratify protocol 12 of the Convention which prohibits discrimination in all rights ‘set forth by law’. The European Court of Human Rights, which authoritatively interprets and enforces the Convention, has recognized that sexual orientation is covered by article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In its recent first ruling on protocol 12 it said the grounds for discrimination prohibited under that protocol would be the same as under article 14, i.e. including sexual orientation.
Since 2005 your country has been involved in a "stabilization and association" process with the European Union as a candidate for future membership. The draft anti-discrimination law of your government is not in line with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which affirms human rights among the core values of the Union. Article 21 of the Charter, which entered into force in December 2009, prohibits discrimination, specifically including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The European Commission noticed in their 2009 progress report on your country:
"Little progress has been made in the area of anti-discrimination policy. Mechanisms to identify, pursue and criminalize all forms of discrimination by State and non-State bodies against individuals or groups do not yet exist. A framework law on anti-discrimination remains to be adopted. Discrimination based on sex, ethnic origin, disability and sexual orientation persists…..Neither the Constitution nor the existing legislation identifies sexual orientation as a basis of discrimination. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are not protected against direct or indirect discrimination and are stigmatized, particularly in rural areas."
The wording of the proposed anti-discrimination law of your government also contradicts Macedonia’s public commitment in signing a joint statement on human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity presented by 66 States at the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 18, 2008.
The statement calls upon "all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect the human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." It also "urges States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity."
Similarly, the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity , adopted by a group of 29 experts on international human rights law in 2006, call upon states to " embody the principles of equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation, if not yet incorporated therein, including by means of amendment and interpretation, and ensure the effective realization of these principles;" (principle 2A).
Several of your neighboring countries are in the process of introducing anti-discrimination laws or have done so in the recent past-among them Albania and Serbia. In all cases the law expressly mentions sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination.
We urge Macedonia not to turn away from international human rights standards and isolate itself in the region.
The purpose of a non-discrimination law is to deepen the domestic commitment to equality, and to fulfill international obligations. However, a non-discrimination law must be inclusive.
I urge you to introduce sexual orientation and gender identity into the draft non-discrimination law, work toward developing protection for all people against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and support the bill’s passage.
Boris O. Dittrich,
Advocacy director in the program for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Human Rights Watch
February 12, 2010 – PinkNews
European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
The European Parliament has said that Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey must prove they can offer "genuine protection" to gay people in order to join the European Union. The three countries have been criticised for their records on LGBT rights and reports given to the European Parliament reminded the candidates that protections such as anti-discrimination laws were "non-negotiable".
Croatia was criticised for its 2009 de facto ban on Zagreb Pride and the government’s failure to implement anti-discrimination laws. In Turkey, the country’s penal code raised concerns for "allowing for the systematic persecution" of gay, bisexual and trans people, while Macedonia was told to cover sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws.
Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said "I am happy that our amendments in favour of LGBT rights in the progress reports for Macedonia and Croatia were adopted by the European Parliament. We have reaffirmed that anti-discrimination standards must apply in candidate countries."
Michael Cashman MEP, Ms Lunacek’s co-president, added: "Accession criteria are crystal clear: minorities must be protected from discrimination as laid out in Article 19 of the Treaty – and that includes sexual orientation. "This is not an à la carte menu: it is at the core of the European Union, and we will be rigorous in its application."
February 22, 2010 – UK Gay News
Macedonian Parliament Debates Proposed Anti-Gay Discrimination Law with Euro MP
Skopje – Ulrike Lunacek, the MEP who is co-president of the European Parliament’s all-party ‘Intergroup’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, today told Macedonian politicians that there was no opting-out from fundamental human rights as Macedonia continues the process of accession to the European Union She was speaking to members of the Committee for Protection of Freedom and Rights of the Parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during a public debate on a proposed anti-discrimination law.
This proposed law falls short of European Union standards, notably for its omission of sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination. The public debate attracted strong interest from national media and civil society representatives, and focused on the proposed anti-discrimination law in the context of the country’s accession to the European Union.
Ms. Lunacek (Greens/European Free Alliance – Austria) told the meeting that EU accession was conditional upon recognising sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination. “Combating discrimination is part of the EU Treaties, and there is no opting out from fundamental rights,” she said after the debate. “I was rather disappointed at the obvious lack of accuracy in the course of negotiations for visa liberalisation for Macedonian citizens — which a majority in the European Parliament supported.”
The recent agreement on visa liberalisation for Macedonian citizens implied a progress towards EU-level anti-discrimination provisions, which were subsequently scrapped from the draft law. “MPs from the ruling party are afraid of same-sex marriage and adoption,” she continued. “But I responded: ‘Fear is the worst possible guide in politics!’ Furthermore, both Albania and Serbia adopted broad anti-discrimination laws; why would the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia isolate itself?”
“This is not about ideology,” Ms. Lunacek pointed out. “his is about prevention, and this is about protection – genuine equality needs everyone’s dedication.” The draft law is due to be formally discussed by the Macedonia Parliament next month. Ms. Lunacek said that both the European Parliament and the European Commission will keep monitoring the protection of minorities in candidate countries as a condition for EU accession.
April 7, 2011 – Uk Gay News
Macedonia Must Protect Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual People, Says European Parliament
Strasbourg – 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. In 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.
“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,” commented Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the Parliament’s all-party Intergroup on LGBT Rights. “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,” she said.
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. Macedonia Backtracks on Protection from Discrimination for Gays and Transgender People. The 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. (UK Gay News, January 29, 2010)
Euro Parliament Reaffirms Gay Rights Are Condition to Join the European Union. The European Parliament today confirmed that candidate countries wishing to join the European Union have to provide genuine protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender minorities. (UK Gay News, February 10, 2010) Macedonian Parliament Debates Proposed Anti-Gay Discrimination Law with Euro MP. Ulrike Lunacek, the MEP who is co-president of the European Parliament’s all-party ‘Intergroup’ for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, today told Macedonian politicians that there was no opting-out from fundamental human rights as Macedonia continues the process of accession to the European Union. (UK Gay News, February 22, 2010)
14 September, 2011 – MSM Global Forum
HIV Prevention Report Card for Men who Have Sex with Men Macedonia
This Report Card is one in a series produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with the support of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Gay men and other men who have sex with men are disproportionately
affected by HIV. These communities are also often among the most marginalized and discriminated against in society due to laws that criminalize their behaviours making it difficult for them to exercise their human rights, including accessing health services. This Report Card summarizes the current situation of HIV prevention strategies and services for gay men and other men who have sex with men in Macedonia and aims to support efforts to increase and improve the programmatic, policy and funding actions taken on HIV prevention.
The research analyses four key components that are widely recognized to be essential for effective action on HIV prevention for key populations:
1. Legal and social context
2. Availability of services
3. Accessibility of services
4. Participation and rights
It also provides recommendations for key national, regional and international stakeholders and service providers, to enhance action on HIV prevention strategies and services for gay men and other men who have sex with men. This Report Card is based on extensive research carried out during 2010 including published data and in-country qualitative research in Macedonia. More detailed information can be found in a research dossier available on request from IPPF.This Report Card is one in a series produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) with the support of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Gay men and other men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by HIV. These communities are also often among the most marginalized and discriminated against in society due to laws that criminalize their behaviours making it difficult for them to exercise their human rights, including accessing health services. This Report Card summarizes the current situation of HIV prevention strategies and services for gay men and other men who have sex with men in Macedonia and aims to support efforts to increase and improve the programmatic, policy and funding actions taken on HIV prevention.
Full text of article here