The first Gay Pride march through Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, took place Saturday in a festive and incident-free atmosphere despite a countermarch organized by religious and “pro-family” organizations.
People from across Macedonia took part, along with marchers from neighbouring Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia and other countries. Participants walked and danced through the streets until they reached central City Park where speeches and entertainment took place.
Among the performers was local pop star Tamara Todevska with the song, “Proud” — she performed it at last month’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Politicians and diplomats attended, including the U.S. Charge d’Affaires Micaela Schweitzer-Bluhm.
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“This year Skopje joined more than 70 Pride (marches) and the USA are very proud to be part of this,” Schweitzer-Bluhm told reporters. “There is a lot of progress here in North Macedonia but still a lot has to be done.”
Natasa Jovanovska, 40, a professor, said she had been inspired by one of her own professors who had asserted the right of the LGBT people “to be what they are and what they want to be.”
The countermarch was organized by an organization called “Alliance for Life” and supported by priests from the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic nuns, Christian evangelicals as well as members of the Muslim community.
Families with small children paraded, accompanied by folk instruments and dressed in green t-shirts proclaiming, among other slogans, that “Gender is biology, not ideology” and extolling “Marriage, Family, Future.”
Saso R., 45, who wouldn’t give his last name, claimed that he had “nothing against LGBT people” being who they are, as long as they kept it at home.
“I don’t like them emphasizing they are different. Why do they need that? To get some benefit, profit … what?”