Skopje Pride Attacks Continue Each Year
The Skopje Pride Weekend, a celebration of diversity and acceptance, has unfortunately become a platform for widespread hate speech against the LGBT+ community in North Macedonia. Digital rights violations spiked during this period, with the online discourse often crossing the line from debate into hate speech and incitement to violence.
This hatred is not limited to a single event but reflects the broader societal attitude towards the LGBT+ community in the country. Homophobic and transphobic rhetoric often portrays the LGBT+ community as a threat to traditional values, spinning a narrative that places this marginalized group as a powerful entity imposing its values on the majority.
In the past years, counter parades were held in Skopje and Bitola in response to the Pride events, which used the pretense of protecting “family values” to harbor and express homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic sentiments. These events, particularly the larger counter parade in Bitola, demonstrate that a significant portion of the society remains unaccepting of the LGBT+ community.
The internet has made it easier for hate speech to proliferate. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, are being used by groups like the “Od nas za nas” association to spread homophobic and transphobic misinformation. Notably, the Coalition for the Protection of Children, of which “Od nas za nas” is a part, has been actively disseminating homo/bi/transphobic content, casting the LGBT+ community as a threat to children.
In one particularly egregious incident several months ago, Dejan Slamkov, a young LGBT rights activist, was targeted with hate speech over a bench painted in the colors of the rainbow in his native village. The online abuse escalated to direct threats against Slamkov’s life, showing how deep-seated and personal these prejudices can be.
Despite these challenges, the LGBT+ community continues to fight for their rights, pushing back against hate speech and working towards a more inclusive society.
The article was published within the Reporting Diversity Network 2.0 project, with the support of the European Union.