Macedonia’s state controlled media has been whipping up homophobia and outing allegedly gay members of the opposition ahead of the country’s local elections in little over than two months.
The Vecer daily, a paper aligned with the government of Macedonia, has publicly named and shamed pro opposition figures, accusing them of being gay and publishing their pictures.
The ‘faggots’ list inlcuded the editor of the daily Vest, Goran Mihajlovski, the editor of the Libertas news portal, Aco Kabranov and the editor of the celebrity magazine Krema, Zoran Vasilevski.
‘We are calling on our readers to tell us the names of [suspected gay] journalists and pass on their experiences’, the Vecer wrote late last week.
Speaking with GSN, Bekim Asani, the chair of LGBT United Macedonia association said the situation has been progressively getting worse in the country.
‘It is really getting worse and worse here, I am very concerned about the safety of LGBT Macedonians.
‘The government and opposition are trading in homophobic insults ahead of the elections on the 24 March, I think it is just an attempt to distract people from the real problems we face in the country.
‘This is just the latest in a series of homophobic incidents in the country, we constantly hear of anti-gay insults and even attacks during football matches, or gathering of pro religious groups affiliated with the Orthodox Church or Muslim faith’.
Speaking with GSN, Peter Tatchell, LGBT and Human rights advocate said: ‘Homophobia is being used as a political weapon reflecting a wider pattern of lgbt victimization in Macedonia’.
‘It is one of the most regressive anti-gay regimes in Europe.
‘LGBT activists in Macedonia are working in conditions of extreme anti-gay hostility. They are heroes and heroines of the global struggle for queer freedom’.
Last month during the Orthodox Christmas (6 January), the influential head of the Macedonian Orthodox Church stated publicly that gay marriage ‘is not only a violation of the holy will of God, but is an introduction and a prerequisite for the dissolution of the family as the basic cell of every civilization and society.
‘... Therefore, we, as followers of Christ, who obey His law, God gave us a sacred duty - to warn and to try to prevent the erosion of morality and destruction of marriage and the family’.
When LGBT United Macedonia objected to the speech, the influential journalist, Janko Ilkovski shared their reaction on his Facebook page saying: ‘We strongly condemn the statement of the association of faggots!
‘They insulted all people who believe in God and the church offended all who have normal families insulted all those who lead normal, healthy and productive life rather than perverse’.
Following this members of LGBT United Macedonia have received threats and anti-gay insults on their Facebook profiles.
Macedonia has passed last month an anti-discrimination law which did not include sexual orientation or gender-identity, as such a ‘concept’ does not exist in the national legislation according to country’s ministry of labor and social policy.
British Member of the European Parliament Richard Howitt has recently called for further investigation of discrimination against LGBT people in Macedonia, ahead of the country’s talks on accession to the European Union.
Macedonia is considered one of the most homophobic countries in Europe.
A 2002 survey found that more than 80% of Macedonian saw homosexuality as ‘a psychiatric disorder that endangered families’. About 65% answered that ‘being gay is a crime that warranted a jail term’.
In 2010 a poll showed that more than 70% of the respondents wouldn't like having a homosexual as a neighbor.