LGBT rights in North Macedonia

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Location of North Macedonia (green), with Europe (green + dark grey)
StatusLegal since 1996
MilitaryGays and lesbians allowed to serve
Discrimination protectionsYes, protections on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex relationships

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Republic of North Macedonia may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is legal in North Macedonia since 1996 and the country prohibits discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity since 2019, but same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-sex married couples.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Homosexuality was outlawed in North Macedonia until 1996, when the country decriminalized sex between people of the same sex as a condition for becoming a member of the Council of Europe.[1]

Recognition of same sex relationships[edit]

There is no legal recognition of same-sex couples. The family law defines marriage as "a union between a man and a woman".[2]

In September 2013, a proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman failed to meet the required two thirds majority in the Assembly of North Macedonia.[3] In late June 2014, the re-elected main party once again submitted the bill, this time hoping that the conservative opposition party, DPA, will provide the additional votes needed to pass.[4]

In January 2015, Parliament voted in favour to constitutionally define marriage as a union solely between a man and a woman.[5] In addition, politicians adopted an amendment to ensure that a two-thirds majority would be necessary to regulate marriage, family and civil unions. Such a majority was previously reserved only for issues such as sovereignty and territorial questions. On 9 January, the parliamentary committee on constitutional issues approved a series of amendments, including the limitation of marriage and the two-thirds majority requirement which was included at the last minute. On 20 January, the amendments were approved in parliament by 72 votes to 4. In order for these amendments to be added to the constitution, a final vote was required to approve them. This final parliamentary session was commenced on 26 January but never concluded, as the ruling coalition did not obtain the two-thirds majority required. The parliamentary session on the constitutional amendments was in recess until the end of 2015, thus the amendement failed.[6]

Discrimination protections[edit]

From 2008 to 2010 the Macedonian gays, lesbians and bisexuals were protected from discrimination in the area of employment. In the beginning of 2010 however, while revising the anti-discrimination law, the country's parliament removed sexual orientation from the list of protected grounds.[7] There were no laws protecting the LGBT citizens of the country from discrimination or hate crimes due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. In March 2019, in a 52 votes in favor and three abstentions vote, the parliament adopted a new anti-discrimination law that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, among other grounds.[8][9]

Gender identity and expression[edit]

In January 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), has ruled that North Macedonia’s requirement that people to undergo gender reassignment surgery before their gender marker on ID documents can be changed is a violation of human rights.

The judgment said deficiencies in North Macedonia’s laws concerning modifying gender on official identification documents infringed the right of Macedonians to respect for their private life.[10][11]

Living conditions[edit]

The gay scene in North Macedonia is very small. There are a few gay-friendly establishments in Skopje and some bars organize "gay nights". The country itself is mainly socially conservative towards homosexuality.[12] There are many reports about public humiliations, worker firings and even casting homosexual teenagers onto the streets due to revelation of their sexual orientations.[1]


A survey carried out in 2002 by The Center for Civil and Human rights showed that more than 80% of the people saw homosexuality as "a psychiatric disorder that endangered families". About 65% answered that "being gay is a crime that warranted a jail term."[13] Women are generally more liberal in their attitudes towards homosexuality than men and rural inhabitants.[14]

LGBT rights organizations[edit]

There are three main organizations and a support center working in the area of LGBT rights:

LGBT United (Macedonian: ЛГБТ Јунајтед) is a recently formed organization which works exclusively for protecting LGBT rights in the country. It organized the first ever pride week in Skopje in late June 2013 alongside the Coalition "Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities". The programme mainly included airing of LGBT-themed films.[15]

EGAL (Macedonian: ЕГАЛ) is the oldest organization working in the area of gay/lesbian health issues. It's also one of the main supporters of the Dzunitsa film festival[16] which shows LGBT themed films.

Coalition "Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities" (Macedonian: Коалиција „Сексуални и здравствени права на маргинализираните заедници“) works partially in the LGBT rights area and organizes different events for promoting equality. It worked on organizing the Skopje Pride Week in 2013.[17]

LGBTI Support Center – (Macedonian: ЛГБТИ Центар за поддршка) is a subsidiary of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia located in Skopje that works on changing the legal and social status of the LGBTI people in North Macedonia through community strengthening, advocacy and free legal aid.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012[edit]

According to United States' Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for North Macedonia in 2012, the LGBT community is prejudiced and harassed by the society, media and the government. The report stated:

"Activists representing the rights of LGBT individuals reported incidents of societal prejudice, including harassment and use of derogatory language, including in the media and from the government. In November the Helsinki Commission's LGBTI Center was vandalized and two activists were attacked while hanging signs for the march of tolerance"[18]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1996)
Equal age of consent Yes (Since 1996)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only Yes (Since 2019)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes (Since 2019)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes (Since 2019)
Anti-discrimination laws concerning gender identity Yes (Since 2019)
Same-sex marriage No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians and bisexuals allowed to serve openly in the military Yes
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b [1] Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ The Family Law
  3. ^ "Macedonia rejects amending constitution to define marriage as one man, one woman". LGBTQ Nation. 25 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Macedonia Moves to Rule Out Same-Sex Marriage". Balkan Insight. 1 July 2014.
  5. ^ Lavers, Michael K. (21 January 2015). "Macedonian lawmakers approve same-sex marriage ban". Washington Blade. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Article about the need for protection of LGBT rights Archived 20 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Sinisa Jakov Marusic (3 May 2013). "Macedonia Gay Rights Record 'Worst in Balkans'". Balkan Insight. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  13. ^ Report on LGBT rights in Macedonia
  14. ^ [2] Archived 8 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Article about the Skopje Pride Week Archived 27 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Program for Dzunitsa 2012
  17. ^ Programme of the Skopje Pride Week Archived 27 June 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Macedonia". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 26 April 2013.

External links[edit] LGBT United Tetovo