SKOPJE, Macedonia — An amendment to alter Macedonia’s constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman was defeated Tuesday, failing to reach a two thirds majority vote.
Marriage is already defined as union between a man and a woman under the country’s Family Law, but the country’s ruling party, VMRO-DPMNE, proposed the amendment in order to block the possibility that the law might be amended in the future by a simple majority vote (42 legislators).
In order to amend the constitution, 79 Macedonian Members of Parliament (MPs) out of 123 must vote in its favor, but only 47 voted supported it, with 26 against and 12 abstaining.During a debate on the amendment on Monday, lawmaker Dragisha Miletic, of the Serbian Progressive Party of Macedonia warned that the constitution must be changed in order to protect against possible future pressure from the European Union (EU), to which Macedonia aspires to join.
Miletic added: “LGBT people are more visible now and they fight for their rights, but they won’t stop there. They will ask for marriage equality too.
“In socialism homosexuality was punishable by law and it was fine by me. It’s not hate, for me it is illness, and you are free to follow the trends if you want to. Just be aware when you walk around, you must stick your ass facing the wall.”
Petar Stojkovikj, a spokesperson for the Macedonian Women’s Alliance, said he was encouraged by the defeat, but stressed that anti-gay laws and violence is still rife in Macedonia.
Stojkovikj told LGBTQ Nation: “Diversity is a source of strength and together we should work on building a society where everyone is free to live their lives as they choose, without discrimination and with the opportunity to achieve their maximum potential.
“We must leave the homophobia and the transphobia behind. There’s no place for such things in a democratic society and a candidate country for EU accession,” he said.
There has been a recent spate of anti-gay violence sweeping through the small former Yugoslav nation, located in the Balkans region of Europe.
In July and June, an angry mob surrounded and attacked the home of Stojkovikj, who is also a famous openly gay Macedonian television star.
In both cases, assailants threw stones at the house and shouted threats and homophobic slurs.
On July 5, Macedonia’s LGBTI center was torched and on June 22, it was attacked by mob of about 30 people.
Despite a promise by made by a high ranking member of Macedonia’s Prime Minister’s cabinet, no arrests have been made until this date.