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News 01 Jul 14

Macedonia Moves to Rule Out Same-Sex Marriage

The Macedonian parliament is soon expected to discuss the government's newly-submitted motion for a constitutional change aimed at ruling out same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian PM, Nikola Gruevski and government ministers | Photo by: gov.mk

The motion to define marriage strictly as a union of one man and one woman, submitted at the weekend, was one of the first orders of business of the conservative Government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski  after it was re-elected in April.

“The constitutional protection and the clear defining of marriage will allow further protection of children and affirmation of their upbringing in a family atmosphere in which the main pillars are the parents, the father and mother,” government spokesperson Aleksandar Gjorgjiev said.

In order to pass, the motion needs the support from two-thirds of MP's in the 123-seat assembly. The ruling parties are close to controlling two-thirds in parliament but can not pass the changes alone.

It is expected that the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, a party with a conservative outlook which controls seven MPs, could provide the additional votes.

This is not the first attempt of the authorities to pass a constitutional change that is deemed anti-gay.

In 2010 when Macedonia's five leading  faiths united against gay marriage and pushed for the same initiative, Gruevski's main ruling VMRO DPMNE party supported it.

Last year the ruling party submitted the proposal to parliament through MP Vlatko Gjorcev but it did not muster the needed two-third majority.

Then the main opposition Social Democrats, SDSM refused to support the motion, saying it was completely obsolete, as the Law on the Family passed in the 1990s already defined marriage in heterosexual terms.

Macedonian family law professor Dejan Mickovic said that he sees the government’s latest push as a "strictly political decision" aimed at "strengthening the traditional notion of marriage" against any possible attempts to allow homosexuals to marry or adopt children in the future.

The government motion comes after rights groups earlier this month urged the state Anti-Discrimination Commission to take action over new 'family studies' courses at the country's biggest state university that define divorce and homosexuality as deviations.

Sts Cyril and Methodius University recently said that it is to open an 'Institute of Family Studies', which some commentators on social networks saw as effectively the work of the Gruevski government, which has pursued a socially conservative agenda since taking power in 2006.

The government has remained silent about the whole issue, as has the state Anti-Discrimination Commission.

Last June, the VMRO DPMNE party-led government adopted new abortion legislation that critics said curbs women's rights. The changes were adopted amid protests by activists and in the absence from parliament of opposition parties.

The government has also backed an anti-abortion media campaign that described terminations as murder.

In 2010, Macedonia adopted an anti-discrimination law. However, this did not include explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Earlier, in 2009, the government tried to boost population growth by giving cash bonuses to mothers with more than one child.

However, this was outlawed by the Constitutional Court on the grounds that it was discriminatory. The same provision remains active but in a different form.

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