Earlier today, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Skopje, His Excellency Mr Wouter Plomp, and the Deputy Ambassador of France to Skopje, Mr Dominique Gautier opened the First National LGBTI Conference in Macedonia held earlier today at Best Western Hotel in Skopje.
The conference, aimed to strengthen the political dialogue on LGBTI in Macedonia, was the meeting place for a debate on the political inclusion of LGBTI in Macedonia, as well as on the cooperation in the advancement of the LGBTI rights and status in the country. In addition to Mr Plomp and Mr Gautier, speeches were held by representatives from 6 political parties – Socialdemocratic Union of Macedonia, Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Renewal of Macedonia, and Levica – the Left Party, then representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the Secretariat for European Affairs, the Ombudsman’s Office, as well as representatives from other civil society actors in the country.
The conference, organized by the association for a critical approach to gender and sexuality “Subversive Front”, was also a place to present the analysis of the Macedonian anti-discrimination legislation in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as to present the proposal amendments to the Criminal Code and the Anti-discrimination Act which regulate the hate crime/hate speech and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. Both the analysis and the proposal-amendments were completed by Subversive Front.
The conference was also a place to promote the campaign “Vote for equality” that Subversive Front is currently conducting which aims to inform and educate the voters on the political offerings the parties have in light of the upcoming early parliamentary elections scheduled for 11 December 2016. For the needs of the campaign, Subversive Front completed an analysis of the programmes of the political parties and disseminated a questionnaire on the political inclusion of LGBTI to 31 political parties. Only 5 political parties – the social-democrats, the liberal-democrats, the liberals, the greens and the left party responded to the questionnaire.
The analysis of the political programmes and the summary of the responses to the questionnaire show that the LGBTI issues and needs are to a very small extent included in the political agenda of the parties, and only in the left-oriented opposition parties. The parties where these issues are included to the highest degree have a minor political power and influence. This is a reflection of the dominant homophobic and transphobic attitudes and norms that prevent the political parties not to show an open and vocal public support to the problems this community has. In addition, the problems and the needs of the trans* and intersex people are nowhere included in the political agenda of the political parties, whereas only the Liberal party responded positively to the question if there is an openly LGBTI person in their list of candidates for the upcoming elections.
This is the second public LGBTI-related event where political participation of LGBTI in Macedonia was in the spotlight of the public discussion. The first one – a civil society forum on the political participation of LGBTI in Macedonia also organised by Subversive Front, was held in April this year. More information about this event can be found here.
The First National LGBTI Conference was organised within the scope of the project “Utilising EU Accession Processes for the Advancement of LGBT Rights in the Western Balkans” coordinated by Sarajevo Open Centre, and funded by the U.S. State Department – Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Victory Institute and Labris.