International News

Activists attacked and injured at LGBT support centre in Macedonia

Besi Besemar October 31, 2014

On October 23, 2014, at 9.30pm a group of around 30 people attacked a venue in Macedonia where the LGBTI Support Centre was holding a public event to celebrate its second anniversary.

Frontline Defenders

THE ATTACKERS wearing masks and hoods over their heads entered the Damar Coffee Bar in Skopje and threw objects, including glass bottles and other missiles, at the group and shouted insults before fleeing the area.

At the time of the attack, more than sixty people from the national LGBT Association were attending the organisations second birthday celebration.

Two members of the group who were in front of the main entrance at the time of the incident were attacked with glass bottles and sustained injuries. Several people who were inside the bar sustained small cuts from flying glass. According to people present at the venue, the attack appeared to be well-coordinated and planned.

Mary Lawlor
Mary Lawlor

Mary Lawlor, Executive Director of the Dubline based human rights organisation, Front Line Defenders, said: “The government of Macedonia must show that all the citizens of Macedonai enjoy full equality before the law. If discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is allowed to take root in Macedonia then it will serve to undermine the principle of equal rights for everyone which should the a fundamental principle for any government” said Front Line Defenders.”

The LGBTI Support Centre is a project of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, dedicated to advancing the rights of LGBTI people through advocacy, free legal aid, awareness raising and the coordination of support groups.

In the two years since it was founded in October 2012, the LGBTI Centre has come under attack six times, including three incidents of stoning and three attempts to set fire to the Centre’s office. The investigation into these attacks is still ongoing.

The LGBTI Support Centre and Front Line Defenders launched a national radio campaign in 2013 on the protection of LGBTI rights defenders.

To listen to the radio campaign, click here:

According to media reports, the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party in Macedonia issued a statement condemning the attack.

For more information about Front Line Defenders, click here: