Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Macedonia: PM Questions "Some Kind of Rights" for Women; LGBT People Under Durres

"Hate Speech breeds Violence"
Photo: The Palm Beach Post
On October 12, 2012, the Macedonian Minister for Labor and Social Policy Spiro Ristovski abruptly announced his refusal of same-sex marriage, marking the start of campaign for distraction of public attention from other issues through inciting hate against LGBT people in some pro-government media. The campaign to rouse homophobia is powered by publishing gay porn images on a newspaper's front page, and promoting bogus research stating that gay parents molest their children. (Exposing minors to pornography is a criminal offense in Macedonia, but there's no record that the authorities pressed charges.)  On October 22, a gay rights activist was beaten up in Skopje, an event condemned by MEPs.

At the Commemorative Event of the public holiday Day of Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle (October 23, 2012), attended by the state leadership, including the President Ivanov (father of one child), the Prime Minister Gruevski (once divorced, fathered two children with his current second wife) held a speech [mk] which caused much turmoil among the citizens, especially those concerned with equal rights for men and women.
Incidentally, the official English translation of this speech seems to be cut short before the PM went into elaborating its main topic - the need to procreate more to boost the economy. The most representative paragraph which was quoted by local media states:
"Today, when we are in incomparably better condition than 60, 100 or more years ago, we, to tell the truth, alongside most of other European countries, face a crisis of family values, with serious long term and so far unstoppable trend of decline of fertility. We live at a time when it is increasingly rare to have a second child in the families, to speak of third or fourth. Contrary to that we lead debates about skewed values, about single-sex marriages, and even about adopting children in those single-sex marriages, about some kind of rights for women, and of men, about which one of them is more represented in politics or in business, and while we spend ourselves on those topics, as a state we are missing a people," Gruevski said. 
The speech and especially the term "some kind of rights" caused uproar on social networks. Many shared [mk] the link to a speech on German womanhood by Joseph Goebbels from 1933 alongside the news [mk] to incite people to compare and contrast. The fact that the same-sex marriage "debate" designated as pointless the PM is initiated and "lead" by his own subordinates, members of his party which imposes iron discipline and top-down coordination on all PR matters was also not considered an example of irony.

During the same day, Macedonian Helsinki Committee opened a LGBT center in Skopje. During the night, the premises were attacked with much material damage.

On October 24, some women CSOs reacted [mk] to the PM's putting the blame on women for not giving birth to enough babies, thus creating problems of competitiveness, investments, expenditure, and roads... by stating that women are "not  a group nor some kind of machines." Some female MPs asked the PM to explain the meaning of his speech at the session of the Parliamentary Committee for Equal Opportunities for Men and Women. Speaking in his defense, Ms Liljana Popovska, MP, whose party DOM is a member of ruling coalition said that:
"...if the Government and the PM did not have good will to advance the rights of women they would not have allowed gender quotas in the Electoral Code and a number of other things... I would not interpret [the speech], it's a matter of style, the way one expresses himself, but I see nothing problematic and I am absolutely certain that women's rights are protected after the speech in the same measure as before it."
In other news, the Minister for Labor and Social Policy (whose official CV omits his marital status, but dependable social media users claim he is and has two kids) again opined [mk] on the issue of low birthrate, providing a nice example of Freudian slip (italic):
"Our kids, and that one child we bear, will have to live under risk, with unsustainable economic system. Where with this population policy... er... this population picture, we'll bring ourselves to a point of having unsustainable economic system and unsustainable pension system," Ristovski said.
According to various estimates, up to one quarter of the population  has left the country in the last two decades since the independence (450.000 out of 2 million, and according to Kapital [mk] 230.000 since 1998), and around 50.000 Macedonians have acquired Bulgarian passports as means to ease emigration or doing business with/in the EU.

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