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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 2, 2014 - Volume 43 Issue 01
Macedonian LGBT activists protest hate crimes
Section One
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Macedonian LGBT activists protest hate crimes

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

LGBT activists held four demonstrations in December in the Macedonian capital of Skopje, protesting national authorities' failure to respond to a series of hate crimes. Activists have also filed criminal hate crime charges against two anti-Gay talk show hosts.

According to Global Voices website, there have been six major assaults on the LGBT community in the past two years. Police have not prosecuted a single suspect for these crimes.

Macedonia with its capital at Skopje is a successor state of the now-defunct Yugoslavia, and is separate from the Greek province of Macedonia to its south. Global Voices is an online collective that translates and publishes social media postings.

On November 6, LGBT activists staged a protest in front of the public prosecutor's offices in Skopje, demanding greater accountability. Several dozen protesters blocked the entrance to the office building, with banners in Macedonian and Albanian, asking 'The investigation is pending& until when?!'

The banners referred to an October 23 attack in which a group of masked assailants attacked a Pride celebration organized by the LGBTI Support Center in Skopje's Old Town. Several people were injured and a café where local LGBT people gathered was wrecked.

After the demonstration, a Macedonian TV station cornered Marko Zvrlevski, Macedonia's chief public prosecutor, and asked about the progress of his investigation. Zvrlevski told reporters that he was 'not informed about how many attacks there were against LGBTI and when did they take place.'

On November 16, about 100 LGBT activists marched through downtown Skopje demanding 'tolerance, justice, liberty, and equality,' as part of the annual March for Tolerance.

On November 20, and again on November 27, protesters again gathered in front of the prosecutors' office, this time wrapping themselves in body bags and staging a die-in in the street.

On December 12, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee - a human rights organization based on the Helsinki Accords - and the LGBTI Support Center filed criminal charges against two popular talk show hosts, whose shows often feature top Macedonian political figures as guests.

Other media personalities and government officials responded with a homophobic media campaign against the LGBT community, publishing an article titled 'How the LGBT Minority Terrorizes the Majority.'

The European Commission's 2014 'Progress Report for Macedonia,' published on October 8, called attention to hate crimes against the LGBT community and criticized the Macedonian government for failure to investigate and prosecute such crimes. The report also cited a lack of public information about the laws Macedonian state institutions are supposed to enforce.

The October 23 attack on the Skopje Pride celebration is thought to have been revenge for the report.

The European Union Delegation to Macedonia - which wants to become an EU member - condemned the violence and visited the LGBTI Support Center's office in Skopje as a show of support. The human rights groups Frontline Defenders and Amnesty International have also expressed support for the LGBTI Support Center.

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