Macedonia moves to ban gay marriage

The Macedonian Parliament in the capital Skopje

The Macedonian Parliament in the capital Skopje

Lawmakers in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia have moved to ban same-sex marriage and to hamper the recognition of civil unions.

The European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights reported that the Southeast European country’s parliament voted on Tuesday in favour of an amendment to constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The amendment defines that “[m]arriage shall be a life union solely of one woman and one man.” It also reads that “legal relations in marriage, family, and civil unions are to be regulated by a law adopted by a two-thirds majority of the total number of Members of Parliament.”

This means that any move to legalise civil unions would be difficult due to the overwhelming support required in parliament.

The amendment was passed with 72 in favour and just 4 against, but still needs final confirmation through an additional parliamentary vote and presidential approval.

“Rather than institutionalising discrimination against same-sex couples, I call on the government to increase protection, in line with European standards,” reacted Tanja Fajon MEP, co-Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, co-Vice-President of the Intergroup, added: “In October last year, the LGBTI Support Centre in Skopje was attacked for the zillionth time. LGBTI people in Macedonia face severe stigma and are all too often faced with hate crime, to which authorities fail to react.

“The Macedonian government should realise diversity is the source of prosperity and social stability, not an obstacle for it. Inversely, homophobia has never created a single job or indeed solved any other problem,” she said.

Homosexuality was legalised in 1996. However, in 2010, the country’s parliament removed sexual orientation from Macedonia’s anti-discrimination law, leaving LGBT people with no specific protection from discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to the United States’ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Macedonia in 2013, the country’s human rights problems included “societal discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons.”

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