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News 16 Oct 12

Rights Groups Sue Macedonian Minister For Homophobia

Macedonia’s Social Affairs Minister, Spiro Ristovski, faces legal conflict with rights organizations after condemning gay adoption.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Four LGBT organizations and the Macedonian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights on Monday announced law suits against the minister for harassment and discrimination, after he said that only heterosexual couples can ensure a “healthy nation”.

A day earlier, Ristovski threatened to sue the same organizations for slander.

“I do not even want to discuss the issue of giving homosexual couples the right to adopt children”, as “children should be raised properly and grow and develop in a marriage with a mother and a father in a real and biological sense,” Ristovski said on Friday.

After being criticized for that statement he repeated similar remarks on Sunday.
“The only thing that I and the party that I represent [the ruling VMRO DPMNE] stand for is a healthy nation,” Ristovski said.

Expressing concern that the fertility rate is dropping, he added: “How can we increase fertility if not by giving birth to healthy children in a natural environment?”

The Helsinki Committee, LGBT-United and the Coalition for the Health Rights of Marginalized Groups, both of them NGOs, called both sets of remarks an open display of homophobia.

They accuse the minister of marking down homosexuals as “unhealthy” in his description of a healthy nation.

Social Affairs Minister, Spiro Ristovski | Photo by: mtsp.gov.mk


“With his last two consecutive statements the minister has made a clear distinction between the health condition of the heterosexuals and homosexuals and between those raised in a heterosexual and homosexual environment,” their joint statement read.

This is not the first conflict between the centre-right nationalist VMRO DPMNE party and the gay community.

Macedonia's 2010 Anti-Discrimination law has been criticised by human rights watchdogs and European institutions for failing to protect the rights of of lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people.

The dispute with the minister intensified earlier this year when the Helsinki Committee filed an initiative before the Constitutional Court to reassess a provision in the Marriage Law regulating “close personal relations” as “personal relations between people of different sexes” in order to allow same sex marriages.

Ristovski said then that he would never allow this to happen.
The Constitutional Court has yet to issue its ruling.

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