Dear Friends, Colleagues and Human Rights Activists,
In the last week Macedonia is haunted by the so far strongest homophobic campaign initiated by the conservative and non-democratic political and public forces.
On the 12th of October, in the frames of a public presentation related to the International Day of the Female Child, organized in collaboration with UNICEF, the Minister of labor and social policy Spiro Ristovski stated the following:
“I do not even wish to discuss the issue of allowing homosexual couples to adopt children, because I believe that a child should be brought up correctly, to grow and develop in a marriage with a mother and a father in a true and biological sense of the word.”
Immediately after the statement was published by Media, the Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’ and the Network for Protection from Discrimination issued a public reaction stating the following:
This statement of the Minister Spiro Ristovski is entirely opposite to the real situation of thousands of children, i.e. different types of families which provide care and attention in bringing up children. A number of sociological and anthropological studies by prominent scientists are proof of this.
Specifically, the statement of the Minister is an act of total exclusion, de-legitimization and dehumanization of all types and communities and families, as well as children within those families, which do not correspond to the biologically reproductive and binary family model, i.e. marriage, on which basis the Minister has given his statement.
With this statement, the Minister discriminates all children and forms of families in which children receive necessary care, love and attention, such as children brought up by single mothers, children growing up with relatives, children without parents, adopted children, children taken care of by larger groups of women (frequently during migration), children brought up by same-sex couples and communities, children from different cultures in which the principle of marriage and the biological couple are not crucial to the process of upbringing and caring for children, etc.
What is especially upsetting in this statement of the Minister is that it is reminiscent to advocacy of some of the primitive forms of family, and even more disturbing, to the horrifying model of family and reproduction in the service of a racially clean nation. There are testimonies of this is the dark archives of European civilization.
We publicly address the Commission for protection against discrimination to react to and condemn the statement of the Minister, especially due to the fact that this statement is given by a Minister whose duty is to protect against discrimination and social exclusion.
Based on the competences of the Commission for protection against discrimination, as well as the previous practice when the Commission reacted to discriminatory statements of politicians, we most urgently demand that the Commission publicly states its position and condemn the statement of the Minister Spiro Ristovski, which represents discrimination on the grounds of family and marital standing.”
The Minister, right after our reaction was published, the same day issued a counter-reaction on his facebook fun page, stating:
Where did you notice promotion of a “racially clean nation”? I expressed promotion of a healthy nation, because I, as well as the party I belong to, make efforts for a healthy nation! In fact, statistics show a decrease in the birth rate, and how otherwise shall we increase it, if not by births of healthy children in a healthy natural environment!
Considering that you are trying to coarsely manipulate my statement and blame me for something that I neither think, nor make efforts for, I publicly inform you that you as a Coalition of "Sexual and health rights of the marginalized communities" and "Network for protection against discrimination" shall have to give proof of your accusations of "racial cleaning discrimination" before the relevant institutions!
The same night on the 12th, in the top news term, the Minister was guest on the national TV station SITEL, well known for its pro-governmental position and explicit homophobic views. His statement was reaffirmed and supported by the journalist who aligned homosexuality with pedophilia, incest, zoophilia etc., while presenting it as a threat to the nation and the civilization, they started the homophobic campaign.
On Sunday, the 14th, the Coalition, together with the Foundation Opens Society Macedonia, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee, LGBT United Macedonia and HOPS-Healthy Options Project Skopje, held a press conference in front the Ministry. Although a great number of media showed up at the conference, the news on the conference did completely misinterpret and turned upside down the entire reaction. Namely, the civil organizations were presented in almost all Media as demanding same-sex marriages and children adoption, as infatuating heterosexual marriage as primitive form, threatening the family values etc. Statements from the press conference were almost not covered at all, or those that were presented were completely take out of their context. Please find annexed the entire press release of the NGOs for clarifications.
The following four days were marked by an increased homophobic campaign comprising:
– Four front pages in four subsequent days on the pro-governmental homophobic newspaper ‘Vecer’. The first published an image from a gay porn movie titled with “There will be No Homosexual Marriages in Macedonia”. The second front page had a picture form a transgender person titled as “Chicks with Condoms”, the third a grandfather with his nephew and caption “We want nephews, not faggotry”, and last one “Researchers prove that children of homosexual couples are victims of pedophilia”, accompanied by an image of a gay male couple with their child.
– The same newspaper in each of this issues published highly imbued articles with homophobic and discriminatory contents inciting hate speech in the commentaries in the internet editions and the internet forums and social networks.
– Other internet media close to the Government publish several homophobic articles, and all of them fabricated the story of the alleged demand of LGBT community and activists of homosexual marriages and adoption.
– The same day when we held the press conference, the 14th of October, the Association of Social Workers held counter press conference warning the public on the dangerous implications same-sax unions would have for children raised in same-sex environment, while stating that they are explicitly standing against such possibility
– Coordinated homophobic action of suspicious newly formed so called citizens associations, the Syndicate for Education, Science and Sport, Sports Association, religious representatives etc.
– Publicly announced submission of Petition in front of the Commission for Protection from Discrimination against the Coalition and the partnering organizations for alleged discriminatory harassment against heterosexual marriages;
– Protest against LGBT organizations;
– Continuous homophobic Media campaign on daily basis;
– Public threats directed towards human rights activists on social networks and profiles of some of the homophobic pro-governmental journalists and spokesmen. Thus, Milenko Nedelkovski, one of the well proclaimed homophobic journalists supporter of the conservative wrote on his fan page (with more than 4000 fans):
“The faggots had a very active day yesterday!?
Some of them protested, others ‘died’, and others broke up…!!!
LGBT extra active.
But, let a representative of the “primitive form of family” tell you something. Wherever I find you, I will give you a boot and slap in the face. And, also something for the media: Since when 5-6 people gathering in front a door is a news?..Yesterday a living human being jumped from the edge of the universe, but the news for Zarko Trajanoski holding the faggots flag is more important. SHAME ON YOU…”;
– Horrifying homophobic comments on the e-versions of the newspapers etc.
Today, 17.10, Wednesday, the Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’ sent a press release demanding from the Government, the pro-governmental media, and from some citizens associations to immediately stop the discriminatory propagandistic campaign directed against LGBT people that tries to disguise itself as a “debate on homosexual marriages and children adoption”. In the press release, we informed the public that the Coalition has not submitted Parliamentary initiative for legalization of same-sex marriages and children adoption, but has initiated Proposal Declaration for Condemnation of Hate Speech, with the help of a parliamentarian from the Liberal Party. We further condemned the shameless disinformation published by the daily newspaper ‘Vecer’ and TV Sitel on the alleged statement by the Coalition that “marriage between men and a woman is the most primitive form of family”, while apologizing to the public for any misinterpretation the phrase “primitive forms of family” may have caused, being just a synonym for ‘elementary forms of family’ and said in the context of the minister’s exclusory and discriminatory definition of the family.
We would like to also emphasize that this homophobic stroke is taking place just few months before the start of the local elections and the possible new Parliamentarian elections in Macedonia. As a reminder, we would note that in 2006, when VMRO-DPMNE won the election the campaign against homosexuals was one of their leading points in the election campaign, being a tool mainly for discrediting the opponents from the Social-Democratic Party. Unlike 2006, when the Social-Democrats included registered same-sex partnerships in their election programme, these days they also publicly stated being against gay marriage and adoption of children by homosexual couples.
At this moment the Coalition is preparing series of Petitions addressing homophobic and transphobic discrimination and hate speech (on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status) perpetuated by Media and the Minister of Labor and Social Policy to be submitted in front of the relevant bodies for human rights protection in Macedonia.
With this letter, the Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’ urges the international community and asks for public reactions that would prevent the further continuation of the discriminatory and homophobic campaign hovering over Macedonia, prevent its further damages and the threatening generation and perpetuation of homophobic and transphobic fear, panics and hate speech.
We would be ineffably grateful if our international friends and democratic and human rights advocates make a public address and reaction demanding from Macedonian media, Government and all civil actors to immediately STOP THE DISCRIMINATORY CAMPAIGN AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS.
Coalition ‘Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities’