The Macedonian Assembly has approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

The governing conservatives began the process to amend the constitution today, following their April election victory, which netted enough seats to secure a two-thirds majority vote.

The amendment would define marriage as exclusively a heterosexual union, between one man and one woman.

Government spokesperson Aleksandar Gjorgjiev, of the VMRO-DPMNE party, said: “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.”

The country’s Pride parade was cancelled last year, following safety concerns and a rise in the number of homophobic attacks.

Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov, has previously claimed that discrimination against lesbian and gay people is a myth.

He claimed: “Our system discriminates against no-one. Homosexuals stigmatise themselves and think they are in an underprivileged position.

“In general, I support the pluralism of life styles of the subculture groups – this is one of the cornerstones of today’s society.”

In December last year, 65% of voters in Croatia approved a constitutional clause banning same-sex marriage.