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20 masked attackers wreck anniversary party of LGBTI centre in Macedonia

20 masked attackers wreck anniversary party of LGBTI centre in Macedonia

A mob attacked attendees celebrating the second anniversary of the LGBTI Support Centre at the Damar cafe in the Old Bazaar area of Skopje, the capital of the East European country, on Friday.

Media reports say some 20 to 30 people in masks and hoods entered the cafe, and threw rocks and bottles at the people inside. Two were wounded, according to an AFP report. Details of their injuries were not reported.

According to a report by Balkans Insight, witnesses said the attack only lasted around 10 minutes but had devastating effects.

‘The hooligans entered the cafe and started throwing everything, like bottles, crates… It was a stampedе,’ said Uranija Pirovska, director of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia, which runs the LGBTI Support Centre.

Pirovska also told the AFP that the incident was the sixth organized attack against gays in Macedonia in two years.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party has condemned the attack and called on the relevant authorities to resolve the case as soon as possible and to bring the culprits to justice.

It said in a statement, ‘VMRO-DPMNE party does not agree, does not support and condemns any act of violence, violent behavior and aggression. For us, this behavior is immature, irresponsible and shameful.’

It added, ‘In this regard, we appeal the event not to be misused in any context in order to more effectively determine the true background and perpetrators of this event.’

The centre, which is financially supported by the Dutch Embassy, was also attacked and had its windows broken when it first opened on October 24, 2012. In July last year, the center was set on fire by unknown arsonists. 

Macedonia was ranked by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, ILGA–Europe, in a 2011 report as the worst country in the Balkans for ‘gross violations of human rights and discrimination’ against the gay community.

In July, Macedonia’s parliament has agreed to consider proposed constitutional amendments to effectively ban gay marriage.