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Organizers of March for Tolerance Attacked in Skopje

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Kočo Andonovski from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia and Marko Kovačevski from the Coalition “Sexual and Healthcare Rights of Marginalized Communities” were attacked last Saturday, November 17, before the start of this year’s March for Tolerance in Skopje.

The participants of the March for Tolerance in front of the Museum of the City of Skpoje (Photo LGBT United Macedonia)The participants of the March for Tolerance in front of the Museum of the City of Skpoje (Photo LGBT United Macedonia)

The two activists were attacked while preparing the information stands for the March on the main city square in Skopje. A masked assailant first attacked Andonovski, and then hit Kovačevski, who tried to help his colleague, several times on the head. Kovačevski suffered several bruises in the attack.

The police patrol that was nearby immediately arrested the attacker. The 38-year old man faces criminal charges for assault.

LGBT United Macedonia, an organization for protection, promotion and advancement of rights of LGBT persons in Macedonia, condemned the violent incident and called on the state authorities to react in accordance with the law and their legal competences and sanction all those who support or promote any form of violence and homophobia.

„Also, as na organisation that believes in the European values, we call on the Government and the relevant institututions to work together on promotion of tolerance and equality for all people in the societz, including the LGBT community which makes up 10% of the total population of the country“, LGBT United Macedonia says on its Facebook page.

The Helsinki Committee demanded from the Government of Macedonia, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, to implement all necessary measures to protect human rights activists and LGBT persons from violence, hate-speech and discrimination.

The Helsinki Committee also demands legal sanctions for the assailnats and the end of the negative campaign that Government institutions have launched, assisted by the pro-government media, directed against the LGBT persons and human rights activists.

The Helsinki Committee and the Coalition for sexual and healthcare rights demanded from the Government to change the Criminal Code in the segment of sanctions for hate crimes and hate speech on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This year's March for Tolerance, organized to mark November 16, the International Day of Tolerance, was dedicated to the LGBT population in Macedonia, which has been subjected to a prolonged homophobic campaign that intensified over the last month, with the attack on the newly opened LGBTi Support Centre in Skopje and several homophobic statements by high-ranking Government officials.

The March also aimed to express its support for the women which are also targeted by a negative hate-speech campaign that aims to exclude and eliminate all diversity in the society and focused on the women whose priorities don’t fit the traditional role of women in society.

„It targets single parents, men who don't raise their children with a wife, and all those families that don't fit the definition of family as a unit for production of “healthy nation”. This March aims to remind everybody about the right to life, the right to choose and the right to be different”, the Helsinki Committee said in the call to the citizens to join the March for Tolerance. (Source: Media reports and coverage/LGBT United/MHC)

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