Parliament passes Law on prevention and protection against discrimination

Parliament passes Law on prevention and protection against discrimination
The Parliament of North Macedonia adopted the Law on the prevention and protection against discrimination yesterday, after an exhaustive discussion last Friday. Fifty-two MPs voted in favour of the Law, with three abstentions.

Considering that the Law is adopted by Badinter majority, thirteen out of twenty MPs attending the session, who belong to the non-majority community, voted in favour of the Law with one abstention.

The discussion of the anti-discrimination draft-law saw clashes between the ruling and opposition parties regarding the benefits arising from this law, the extent to which it serves to protect and promote citizens’ rights and freedoms, against the protection of traditional values.

The ruling parties believe that this Law is European, democratic, one that promotes human rights and freedoms, whereas the opposition believes that it opens the possibility to redefine the category of family, to cancel marriage as a union between a man and a woman, to use new adoption criteria and new school curricula.

Minister of Labour and Social Policy Mila Carovska told MPs that the Law complied with European and international standards for the protection of citizens against any discrimination.

“The Law covers all bases for discrimination, and it also establishes effective mechanisms for protection,” Carovska said adding that this was the first time an expert commission for the protection against discrimination was enabled to work.

The Law prohibits any discrimination based on race, skin colour, origin, nationality or ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, belonging to a marginalized group, language, citizenship, social background, education, religion or religious conviction, political beliefs, other beliefs, disability, age, family or marital status, property status, health condition, personal or social status, or any other grounds.

Previously, the Law was in regular parliamentary procedure, but it was “stuck” for eight months, after which the Government took it off the agenda and re-sent it for adoption through a fast-track procedure.

By including the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity, this Law extends protection against discrimination of this citizens’ group. The legal solution enables prevention and equal access to protection mechanisms against discrimination of all citizens. The Constitution of North Macedonia is the very grounds for adopting this Law, as it defines basic human and citizen freedoms and rights, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy said after the Law was adopted.

The Law on the prevention of and protection against discrimination has been positively evaluated by the Venice Commission, the United Nations, the EU, and OSCE/ODIHR. According to all of them, by adopting this Law, North Macedonia is making a significant step forward in the fight against all forms of discrimination, in line with EU legislation and international human rights standards.