The Network for Protection against Discrimination* condemns the silence of the institutions regarding the hate and threats against the LGBT people and activists that occur in continuity for a longer period. Namely, starting from the multiple attacks on the Support Center, the attack on the people present at the LGBTI Center during the “Pride Week”, the attacks in Bitola on activists that fight for the rights of LGBTI people, homophobic threats on the social media, the beating of two boys in the center of Skopje, including the attack on the home of the actor that publicly spoke about his sexual orientation.
As a result of the silence of the institutions in terms of the attacks on the LGBTI Support Center, the Network for Protection against Discrimination on 08.10.2013 pressed criminal charges against unknown persons for the reasonable doubt that among other crimes, they are also responsible for the criminal acts “Violence”, “Racial and other discrimination”, “Violation of the equality of citizens”, as well as “Causing general danger”
A year has passed since the first attack on the LGBTI Support Center and the public still has no information whether the public institutions took any measures to capture the perpetrators and whether a procedure has been initiated to hold the perpetrators responsible for their crimes.
The only case where the LGBTI Support Center was attacked and where the institutions reacted promptly is the attack on March 2nd. The Network welcomes the verdict of the Primary Court Skopje 1 with which the attackers of the Center were pronounced guilty for the act “Participating in a crowd committing criminal offence”. During the adoption of the decision regarding the severity and duration of the punishment for the perpetrators, the court took into consideration the aggravating circumstances for hate crimes on the basis of national and social origin, political and religious affiliation, sex, race or color, and it did not include and recognize the bases sexual orientation and gender identity as a motive for the committed act.
The attacks made by the perpetrators posed a great threat to the life and body of the people present in the Center, violation to the equality of citizens and discrimination (based on sexual orientation and gender identity).
The Network calls upon the competent institutions including the Public Prosecution to investigate the rest of the cases of violence and hate crimes, taking into consideration the above mentioned verdict by the Primary Court Skopje 1, in terms of the aggravating circumstances when reaching the sentence.
The Network urges them to start implementing the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights that clearly state that “the sexual orientation as a fundamental characteristic of a person and should be treated the same way as the categories race, ethnicity and religion, which are often covered by laws for sanctioning hate speech and hate-motivated violence.”
We consider that the institutions must recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as bases for violence and discrimination, whereby the LGBTI community will finally receive protection and support from the institutions that should protect the rights of all citizens and in future it will act preventively to stop this kind of violence from happening again.
* The Network for Protection against Discrimination aims to develop strategic advocacy in cases of discrimination by submitting cases before the Commission for Protection against Discrimination and before the domestic and international courts. The development of domestic practice is triggered by providing free legal assistance in strategic cases of discrimination. The network was established in December 2010 by the following organization: Foundation Open Society – Macedonia; Association for Health Education and Research (HERA); HOPS –Healthy Life Options; Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia and Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women in the Republic of Macedonia (ECE); ROMA S.O.S. Prilep; Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” and “Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability- PORAKA.