MEPs have expressed concern over an increase in homophobic incidents in Macedonia.

Last Sunday, a young gay rights activist was attacked in the country’s capital Skopje and on Monday Alen Shakiri, the head of the campaign organisation LGBT United Macedonia, was violently attacked on a street.

In the past month several Macedonian politicians have also made public statements against LGBT rights.

On 12 October, Minister for Labour and Social Policy Spiro Ristovski stated that same-sex couples should not be allowed to marry and children must be raised only be opposite-sex parents.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP and Co-President of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, said:

“As the European Commission noted again this year, Macedonia still falls short of EU standards on anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation. I addressed the parliament in Skopje two years ago, pleading for a comprehensive anti-discrimination law. I am sad to see that inequalities don’t only persist, but intolerance is on the rise as well.”

Michael Cashman MEP, the other Intergroup Co-President, added to Ulrike Lunacek’s remarks by saying:

“Political leaders—and the minister in charge of anti-discrimination in particular!—should know better than to make derogatory comments, especially in public. Macedonians are worth more than this scaremongering.”

In 2011, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, (ILGA–Europe), rated Macedonia as the worst country in the Balkans in terms of legal protection for LGBT citizens.