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Skopje Pride 2023 Recap

The fourth Skopje Pride Parade was marked by powerful and courageous messages of equality, dignity, and love. While our current reality is filled with hate, violence, and aggression towards the LGBTQ+ community, especially with the intensified anti-LGBT movements, the streets of Skopje on June 24 were brimming with smiling and positive individuals, LGBTQ+ community members, and supporters who marched together united in the fight for equal rights for all.

Starting this year, the Parade opened as a platform for many other causes and groups wishing to convey their message to the public, to be visible, and recognized with their symbols.

The starting point, as in previous years, was “Woman-Warrior” Park, where the main messages of Pride were delivered. Speeches were given by activist Lila Milic and representative of the Green Party of Germany, Mina Jack, as well as the mother of a gay son, Slavica Gajdas Knjezevic, who proudly joined the march for LGBTQ+ equality.

Transgender activist Lila Milic stated that she also advocates for family values, but not for hate.

“Opponents of the LGBTQ+ community believe that family values are about hating the different, that the husband decides and controls the woman and children in the family, that he behaves violently and is forgiven for it. No, these are not family values in a democratic society,” Milic proclaimed loudly.

Slavica Gajdas Knjezevic, a psychiatrist and mother of a gay son, also spoke emotionally, urging parents not to judge their children but to accept them as they are.

“Sexual orientation and gender identity are not choices made by our children. They simply are different,” she said.

Mina Jack Tolu, a trans activist and member of the committee of the European Greens, shared her experiences of hate speech as a trans person but also as a politician, speaking about the role of the Greens in the fight for human rights. She spoke inspiringly about Malta, her homeland, where since 2015 laws recognize trans people, enabling them to lead dignified lives.

This year, the march took place in the afternoon hours through the center of Skopje, and the final destination was the Army Stadium in the City Park. The Parade’s program, with its performances, enriched the event, featuring the great Macedonian music star Tamara Todevska, as well as Dejan Slamkov, Vinya, Ronda Voo, Iggy Mona Asentra, Daria Buffy, Fendy Mama, Zoi Plastic, Alexis VanderCunt, Sunnoka, Loakiin, Violeta Kachakova, Galatheia, and Stefan Strange.

The organizing committee of the fourth Skopje Pride Parade thanks all citizens who contributed to creating a magnificent atmosphere of unity and solidarity through their personal presence, despite numerous expressions of hate, which are an integral part of all events for LGBTQ+ visibility. Skopje Pride, as an event that breaks the chains of stigma, systemic and family violence, overcomes all words full of hatred and intolerance, whether they come from politicians, media workers, or social media.

Our greatest commendations go to the volunteers who wholeheartedly invested in organizing the Parade and promotional events. We express our gratitude to the Ministry of Interior, whose members provided high-level security for Pride this year, as well as to the Ministry of Defense, which allowed us to use the army stadium for the entertainment part of the program.

Skopje Pride 2023 was supported by the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia and the Open Society Foundations of the Western Balkans, the Embassy of the United States of America, and the Embassy of the French Republic in the Republic of North Macedonia, the Sigrid Rousing Trust, Civil Rights Defenders, the Zaev Foundation – One Society for All, and Melon Technologies.

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