Violence marred Skopje Pride Week's opening event when an anti-gay mob surrounded and attacked participants in Maceodnia's capital city’s LGBT support center.
The mob, said to be composed of around 30 young people, shouted abuse and threats while hurling stones, bottles and bricks at the first floor of the LGBT support center, a few hours ago (22 June).
The attack started at 6:30pm local time, 30 minutes after the opening event of Skopje Pride Week that included a screening of short LGBT films and a discussion on health rights of transgender people.
Around 40 participants were attending the event, organized by the LGBT United Macedonia organization, on the second floor of the center.
Participants were unharmed, although one policeman was wounded when he tried to chase the mob away being hit by some of the objects and taken for hospital treatment.
Earlier today a group of anti-gay teenagers participating in a protest against the Pride Week and attacked a man who was described as ‘a random passerby’ in the center of Skopje, while the center's entrance was physically damaged.
Bekim Asani, one of the organizers of Skopje Pride Week told Gay Star News: ‘We were watching the films when we heard loud noises of objects hitting the center, breaking glass and then verbal abuse.
‘Participants were deeply shocked and scared and didn’t know what to do or how to react.
‘We then noticed a few policemen trying to disperse and arrest the mob and saw one policeman being hurt. We are all very distressed.
‘I think this incident highlights the difficult situation for LGBT people in Macedonia and the whole issue of safety and anti-gay publicity, which we have been consistently suffering from.
‘We took the decision not to march this year but do indoor events as we are very concerned about safety and security, as previous Pride events were met with violent attacks that left some members of the LGBT community wounded.
‘We received hundreds of threats also on our Facebook page, stating “death to fags”, “you’re all going to die”, and so on.
‘Nevertheless we are determined to go with our planned Pride Week events.’
In April members of Macedonia’s LGBT United and Sexual Health Rights advocacy groups were verbally and physically attacked for carrying gay rights posters in a peaceful pro LGBT rights walk in Bitola.
Earlier this year Macedonian politicians whipped up anti-gay hate in the media in order to attract voters in the country’s local elections.
In its annual report, ‘Rainbow Europe Index 2011’, by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Europe Branch, (ILGA–Europe), Macedonia was rated as the worst country in the Balkans in terms of legal protection for LGBT people, and one of the worst in Europe as a whole.