We established the LGBTI center for support as a branch of the Helsinki Committee October 2012. it is the first open center in the Balkans and with all the troubles in between by the homophobic atmosphere we are functioning very well.
The goal of the Center is to change the social and legal status of the LGBTI population in Macedonia. For achieving it we started support groups for strengthening the community cause in Macedonia people still live in the closet and are afraid to come out or talk about their sexual orientation as the government is having an openly homophobic and transphobic campaign.
We have established 4 groups – lesbian, gay, trans and Group for family and parents of LGBTI people. As we started support groups, the lesbian group showed much more enthusiasm and willingness to do more so we formed an activist core as lesbian feminist group, with name and logo. It was really surprising cause before we had almost nothing as lesbian activism. But as we started doing activities with LezFem it really made an impact and we also had some media coverage which is pretty hard in Macedonia as the media is now controlled by the government.
Here is something more for LezFem.
The Lesbian and feminist support group – LezFem was formed within the LGBTI Support Centre in Skopje. This group is dedicated to women’s rights, with a special focus on lesbians. The main goal of the group is to point on the problems faced by lesbians in Macedonia, and by the exchange of ideas and their realization into constructive actions, to approach the solution of these problems.
LezFem was formed through spending time together and long conversations by several girls who identify themselves as lesbians, political lesbians or feminists. Our goal is to increase the visibility and political relevance of lesbian and feminist activism and to promote new strategies of resistance against dominant ideological concepts of patriarchy, chauvinism, heteronormativity, nationalism, and clericalism. We strive towards creating an authentic political voice, seeking different experiences of women from the past, while we build their significance and continuity today, and also towards political articulation of everyday experiences and social relations among women, not only emotional, but also economic, friendly, professional, and family relations. It is in these women’s realities, and not imaginary lifestyles, that LezFem sees a source of knowledge, values, energy and power.
Our VISION is a world based on the principles of equality and freedom, a world where diversity is praised, not sanctioned.
Our MISSION is strengthening the community of lesbians and bisexual women via self-advocacy, changing the legal and social status of lesbians and bisexual women, strengthening the feminist movement via actions which question heteronormativity in the society, politics, media, academic community, art, culture and women’s movements in Macedonia.
You can find out more about LezFem by clicking HERE
As we are a new group we dont have a big history of activities, but the most important ones are :
1. Action – 8th of March
The events for the 8th of March comprised the following activities: placement of signs on visible places, containing names, pictures and texts for female fighters from the past, which were forgotten in history; a film projection on the topic of punk porn feminism, which intended to show a different view of feminism toward pornography, which was followed by a discussion among experts on the topic of feminism; presentation of LezFem in the Youth Cultural Centre, where there were activities and workshops, exhibits, creative workshops with various creative handicrafts, book stands and promotional materials, and also a discussion among activists.
2. Action Visibility
The action was placing signs on several visible positions in the capital city, mostly on overpass roads, with messages stating: "The lesbians wish you a nice trip", "The lesbians wish you welcome", as well as "The lesbians wish you a nice day". The goal of the action was to increase the visibility of lesbians in our society. The action was conducted successfully, and it also received media coverage, and therefore it can be assessed as very successful.
3. Radio discussions
We have been part of several radio shows talking about the misogyny in Macedonia the lesbian invisibility and the patriarchal system in Macedonia that discriminates the lesbians on two bases- sexual orientation and gender..
4. Promotion of a book
We have organized a promotion of the book Decent Life, book edited by Dragoslava from Labris (lesbian organization from Belgrade) with lesbian stories from the Region in the name of celebrating IDAHO day. Dragoslava and one more representative from Labris were our guest talking about the book and the situations for the lesbians in Macedonia