Macedonia bans same-sex marriages and civil unions

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has moved to ban same-sex marriage, as well as making it extremely difficult for any future legislation to allow same-sex civil unions to pass.

The Parliament of Macedonia voted 72-4 yesterday to define marriage as specifically between one man and one woman.

The amendment definise marriages as “a life union solely of one woman and one man”, and a second point reads that “legal relations in marriage, family, and civil unions are to be regulated by a law adopted by a two-thirds majority of the total Members of Parliament.”

Comparitively, for same-sex civil unions to pass would require the same majority in Parliament as issues of sovereignty and the functioning of the State.

A previous draft of the amendment which explicitely banned the introduction of same-sex civil unions or registered cohabitation was condemned by an advisory body of the Council of Europe, the Venice Commission.

The Commission urged Macedonia to protect same-sex couples with legal recognition of their partnerships.

Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, commented, saying: “Instead of taking the Opinion of the Venice Commission seriously, and guaranteeing equal rights for all couples, the government, supported by parliament, decided to ban equal marriage and create a constitutional obstacle to even create possible legislation on this issue in the future.”

“Rather than institutionalising discrimination against same sex couples, I call on the government to increase protection, in line with European standards.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, added: “In October last year, the LGBTI Support Centre in Skopje was attacked for the zillionth time. LGBTI people in Macedonia face severe stigma and are all too often faced with hate crime, to which authorities fail to react.”

“The Macedonian government should realise diversity is the source of prosperity and social stability, not an obstacle for it. Inversely, homophobia has never created a single job or indeed solved any other problem. Macedonia would be better served by following the trend of an increasing number of countries in Europe and the Americas where same-sex couples are legally recognised and protected.”