Protest against gender identity draft laws organized by Macedonian Holy Synod

Skopje, North Macedonia, June 21, 2023

Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid. Photo: Church of St. Sophia in Ohrid. Photo:     

The Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric is calling on the Orthodox faithful and all concerned citizens to join in a peaceful protest against the adoption of gender identity draft laws.

A group of religious leaders, including the primate of the MOC, His Eminence Archbishop Stefan of Ohrid, published an appeal in May, demanding the withdrawal of the bills, warning of their danger for society.

“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 wrote.

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

But unfortunately, the voice of the religious leaders, who represent 95% of the Macedonian population, was not heard, and the Parliament continues to move towards adopting the laws, which specifically call for the eradication of certain customs and traditions held by the Macedonian people.

Thus, the MOC will hold a peaceful protest in Skopje at the end of the month.

The Synod’s statement reads:

The Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church-Ohrid Archbishopric, has carefully considered the draft laws on civil registration and gender equality and expresses particular regret and concern that the relevant institutions ignored the statement of all religious communities, which represent over 95% of the population. On the contrary, they continue with the shortened procedure for all parliamentary filters, for the complete adoption of these laws, which we once again appeal to be withdrawn from the procedure, as they represent a serious threat to society, especially to its fundamental unit—the family.

The negative consequences of such laws are already visible in the oldest democratic societies in the world, where they are already subject to serious criticism or rejection.

Keeping a close eye on all developments and active pressures for the adoption of these laws, we are deeply worried and brought to the point of having to protect and defend the family, and above all, our children.

We call on the faithful people, civic associations, organizations, and all supporters to join us in this fight for dignity, freedom, and protection of basic religious rights, to protect our faith and tradition from the attempt to eradicate it, as mentioned in Article 23, paragraph 5 of the draft law, and to come out to a peaceful protest in front of the St. Clement of Ohrid Cathedral in Skopje on June 29, 2023, at 6 pm, against the adoption of these laws.

Article 23, paragraph 5 of the bill states that the commission for gender equality “initiates and promotes activities for social and cultural change in order to eradicate prejudices, stereotypes, customs, traditions, and all other harmful practices in pursuit of gender equality.”

Meanwhile, Estonia became the first ex-Soviet state to legalize gay marriage yesterday.

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