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Macedonia: Hate crimes on LGBT people spark "body bag" protests

SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Human rights activists have held three demonstrations this month in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, protesting the authorities’ failure to respond to several hate crimes in recent years. Macedonia has witnessed six violent attacks on human rights defenders and members of the LGBTI community in the last two years. Police have prosecuted no one for these crimes.

Despite some international support for the victims of these assaults, Macedonian officials and the local mainstream media have yet to take the matter seriously.

While these attacks cause consternation at home, the wave of violence also complicates Macedonia's road to integration in the European Union, where member states are expected to combat hate speech.

The European Commission's 2014 Progress Report for Macedonia, published on October 8, criticized the impunity with which people commit hate crimes in Macedonia, particularly against the LGBT community. The report also cited a lack of public information about the laws Macedonian state institutions are supposed to enforce.

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