Macedonia: Spate of Anti-Gay Attacks

Published: July 10, 2013

(Berlin) – The Macedonian government should ensure a thorough investigation into the series of anti-LGBTI attacks in June and July 2013, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. The victims included human rights defenders who gathered in the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex) Support Center in Skopje at the beginning of the Gay Pride Week and a famous actor who had come out as a gay man.

 In the most recent attack, on July 5, unidentified people tried to set fire to the LGBTI Support Center in Skopje. Preliminary findings by the fire brigade and the Skopje Police Inspection Department show that someone  had climbed on the roof, removed a dozen roof tiles, spilled gasoline on the roof planks, and set them on fire.

“Anti-gay thugs are targeting people who support equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Macedonian government seems to be turning a blind eye,” said Boris Dittrich, LGBT rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Not a single government official has publicly spoken out against these blatant attacks, leaving LGBTI people even more vulnerable to violence and discrimination.”

Skopje’s Pride week was opened in the LGBTI Support Center on June 22. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that about 40 LGBTI activists were inside, at a film screening. A mob of about 30 people gathered outside, shouting derogatory and homophobic slogans and threatening the people inside. The assailants threw stones, bottles, and bricks at the center, wounding a police officer who had arrived on the scene, the witnesses said.

 One of the leaders of LGBT United Macedonia, who was inside the center at the time of the attack, has since received several death threats on Facebook.

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