Politicians began the process in July of last year when they agreed to consider constitutional amendments put forward by the conservative government.
The country’s parliament voted by 72-4 yesterday to legally define marriage as between one man and one woman. The move will also make future legislation for civil unions extremely difficult.
An earlier version of the amendment explicitly banning same-sex civil unions and registered cohabitations was criticized by a Council of Europe advisory body.
However, Tanja Fajon MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup on LGBTI Rights, said that “instead of taking the [criticism] seriously, and guaranteeing equal rights for all couples, the government, supported by parliament, decided to create a constitutional obstacle to even create possible legislation on this issue in the future."
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the Intergroup, added:
“LGBTI people in Macedonia face severe stigma and are all too often faced with hate crime, to which authorities fail to react.
“The Macedonian government should realise diversity is the source of prosperity and social stability, not an obstacle for it. Inversely, homophobia has never created a single job or indeed solved any other problem. Macedonia would be better served by following the trend of an increasing number of countries in Europe and the Americas where same-sex couples are legally recognised and protected.”
The amendment still needs final confirmation through an additional parliamentary vote and presidential approval.