Macedonia: Same-sex marriage ban will entrench discrimination

The Macedonian Parliament’s approval of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage will further entrench discrimination in the country, Amnesty International said today. 

The amendment, passed today, defines marriage as a union solely between a woman and a man, which the government claimed will “affirm, promote and protect” a traditional foundation of society. This effectively bans same-sex marriage, discriminating against same-sex couples. 

“Today’s vote is another addition to discrimination, violence and intolerance on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in Macedonia,” said Gauri van Gulik, Deputy Director for Europe at Amnesty International. 

A previous version of the amendment also proposed a ban on same-sex civil unions and other forms of registered partnerships. This clause was removed after the Council of Europe declared it incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. 

Even though a ban on same-sex civil unions was not included in the amendment as passed, same-sex partnerships cannot be registered under current Macedonian law. Additionally, anti-discrimination legislation fails to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, contrary to Macedonia’s human rights obligations. 

“Macedonia swims against the European tide of legalizing same-sex marriage and to growing European human rights norms on equality,” said Gauri van Gulik.

Twelve European countries have already legalized same-sex marriage and more than two dozen allow registration of civil partnerships. 

Amnesty International urges Macedonia to repeal discriminatory laws and guarantee that people living in same-sex partnerships are able to enjoy their human rights without discrimination.