Macedonian Canadian Lawyers Urge PM Gruevski to Withdraw Constitutional Amendment

UMD is posting this article on behalf of MCLA. Many MCLA members are also members and supporters of UMD.

On October 29, 2014, top Canadian litigator and President of the Macedonian Canadian Lawyers’ Association (MCLA), Chris G. Paliare O.Ont. sent a letter to Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski expressing strong opposition to proposed Constitutional amendment XXXIII, which would prohibit same-sex marriage as well as prohibit civil unions or any other form of life partnership for same-sex couples. Click here for full letter.

MCLA’s view is in line with the October 13, 2014 opinion report by the Venice Commission of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law on the proposed Seven Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia. Click here for the Venice Commission report.

The Macedonian Canadian Lawyers’ Association, which represents over fifty Canadian lawyers of Macedonian heritage, in agreement with the opinion report by the Venice Commission, in the strongest terms, urged Prime Minister Gruevski to withdraw this draft constitutional amendment. To date, neither President Ivanov nor Prime Minister Gruevski has responded.

Paliare made several points as to why amendment XXXIII to the Constitution would be unhealthy for the Republic of Macedonia.

Firstly, there is no rational legal justification for this constitutional amendment. The only one he can come up with is one of political gain, which should never be part of a government program when human rights issues are at stake.

Secondly, should Macedonia engage in the constitutional discrimination of their own people, they would hinder the already difficult process of persuading other countries of the necessity to protect Macedonian human rights, as they are not even worthy of protection on their own soil.

Thirdly, the letter points out that on no less than six occasions the LGBT Support Centre in Skopje has been attacked over the past two years, from which five cases have no legal consequences, including a reference to an attack that just occurred on October 23, 2014 at the Damar Coffee Bar in Skopje on the LGBT Support Centre in which armed, hooded thugs attacked their 2nd anniversary celebration. Paliare argues that six attacks in two years, without any of the perpetrators being prosecuted or brought to justice is not something Macedonia should be proud of.

Paliare further argues that the proposed amendment would validate to these attackers and followers that LGBT members of their own community are somehow lesser members of society because of their sexual orientation, which would only fuel even more homophobic hate violence in the country.

Finally, Paliare makes the point about the economic hit the country would take should this amendment pass, especially given that the country and government of Prime Minister Gruevski are actively seeking foreign direct investments. If key employees are in a same-sex marriage or their children are in such a relationship, it may be a determining factor in deciding to locate elsewhere. Companies have many choices as to where they can, and will, locate. Moreover, tourism will inevitably be adversely affected as those in a non-married, non-man and woman marriage will not feel comfortable spending their tourism dollars in a country that has constitutionalized a provision like amendment XXXIII.

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