Macedonia should recognise same-sex couples says rights commissioner

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The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has published a report into the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in Macedonia.

Thomas Hammarberg said that the “atmosphere and attitude towards LGBT persons” in the former Yugoslav Republic has improved.

However, he concluded that certain persisting discriminatory attitudes exist at all levels, and legal safeguards are insufficient.

“Legal protections against discrimination remain particularly weak,” he said.

“Currently, there are limited specific legal protection provisions available for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but not on the basis of gender identity.

“The Law on Military Service was amended and took out the prohibition for homosexuals to serve. Moreover, a recent amendment to the Law on Work Relations prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a welcome positive legislative change albeit with a narrow scope of application.”

Mr Hammarberg said that the lack of a law against homophobic and transphobic hate crimes should be considered, along with Constitutional protection on the grounds of sexual orientation.

“The Commissioner has been made aware of instances of apparent discriminatory attitudes towards the LGBT community by local authorities,” the report stated.

“Education is the key to informing and developing a culture of tolerance and inclusiveness. Human rights education programmes should be developed and expanded for Governmental officials including police officers and judicial officials at all levels, and also for school-going students.

“There should be a possibility of legal recognition of same sex partnership.”

Thomas Hammarberg was elected to the post of Commissioner for Human Rights in 2005 by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.
The 47-member Council predates the European Union.

It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.