The head of Macedonia’s only existing LGBT rights group, was severly attacked on Sunday (21 October) by two unidentified men in the country’s capita Skopje.
The Facebook page of the group reported that as AS (initials used to protect his identity) was on his way to his home around 9pm, he heard ‘shouts and insults such as 'Fag', 'Homo', 'You are all going to die’ directed at him.
‘Realising he may get in trouble, he started running, yet, the attackers have managed to catch him and have started beating him in the stomach.
‘[AS] barely managed to run away, and to call the other members of the organisation. Together they have [sic] reported the attack to the police.’
LGBT United Macedonia reported that when the activists contacted the police, and filled in a statement about the attack, officers did not show any interest and were visibly unsympathetic.
The group also noted that ‘lately … members of LGBT United Macedonia have been a target of verbal insults and physical attacks by people aware of their membership … and of their LGBT activism’.
Speaking with Gay Star News, one of the group members, who wishes to remain anonymous for safety reasons, said that Shakiri is resting at his home, still traumatized and suffering from stomach pains.
‘We are all really stressed here. Lots of negative things have been happening here lately.
‘Three months ago we did a small hidden pride, we are afraid to reveal our faces because of the widespread homophobia here.
'Next year we hope to organize the first pride march ever in Macedonia.
'It is very difficult for us, we are all volunteers here and very little help and no funding except our own.’
In its annual report, ‘Rainbow Europe Index 2011’, by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, (ILGA–Europe), Macedonia is rated as the worst country in the Balkans in terms of legal protection for LGBT people.
Macedonia is the only country from the Balkans placed in the so-called red zone of worst offenders, among 13 other states.
According to gay travel and rights site GlobalGayz, LGBT people are generally ostracized from Macedonian society if they dare to come out.
The site cites many stories about public humiliations, unfair dismissal and even casting gay teenagers onto the streets after parents learn of their sexuality. There are also many cases of police harassment of gays, despite the legality of homosexuality.