Macedonian religious leaders protest gender identity bills

Skopje, North Macedonia, May 10, 2023

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His Eminence Archbishop Stefan, the primate of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric, and other religious leaders from confessions represented in North Macedonia are demanding the withdrawal of bills on birth registration and gender equality, arguing that they fundamentally contradict the teachings of all religious communities.

An appeal, signed by Abp. Stefan and the heads of the Catholic, Evangelical Methodist, Jewish, and Islamic communities, was published on the official site of the Macedonian Church on May 5.

The religious leaders notes that the draft laws are cause for concern for the future and safety of the believers for whom they’re responsible, especially women and children.

“We consider the legal recognition of ‘gender identity’ in these laws unacceptable, as well as the confusing distinction between sex, gender, and gender identity. Thanks to their adoption, instead of protection, it opens up the possibility of discrimination against the most vulnerable categories—women and children,” Abp. Stefan and the others write.

The promotion of various genders and “fluidity” between them can cause irreparable damage, especially to children, the appeal warns. It also notes that the draft law on gender equality could infringe upon parental rights by establishing that children should be treated the same as adults in terms of gender identity.

Abp. Stefan and the other leaders thus call for the bills to be withdrawn:

Having learned about what is happening in countries where gender ideology has become a reality with tragic consequences, causing more and more active resistance from parents, psychiatrists, psychologists, and educators, we call for the draft laws to be withdrawn and leave time for their serious study, for familiarization with all the consequences for the psychological health of young people and for active participation in the development of such laws by the whole society and, first of all, parents and the entire professional community.

They also point to the Istanbul Convention, which “used the noble goal of protecting women and children as a cover for the secret imposition of gender ideology.”

“In fact, the draft laws fundamentally contradict the teachings of all religious communities,” they emphasize, and noting that other EU members states—Turkey, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Latvia—have not ratified the Convention based on the gender component.

His Grace Bishop Jacob of Stobi, Vicar of the Diocese of Strumica spoke out against the draft laws in March, saying gender identity elevates the mentally ill above the healthy.

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