Around 30 stakeholders attended the event, including representatives of public institutions with mandate in the field of equality promotion, courts and universities, as well as civil society and donor organizations working on anti-discrimination.
The event was opened by a presentation of the project, its background, activities and main goals, which was delivered by Dr. Neda Zdraveva, who also moderated the debate. She emphasized the importance of the phenomenon of discrimination and outlined the content and arguments of the country report.
This was followed by comprehensive presentations of the report by two of its authors, Mr. Atanas Georgievski and Dr. Elena Mihajlovska. Mr. Georgievski focused on the legal and institutional setting and the role of the courts and other relevant institutions in combating discrimination, whereas Dr. Mihajlovska elaborated the role of universities in combating discrimination and the importance of raising awareness and developing a culture of respect for human rights.
The presentations were followed by discussions on specific issues, with most of the attendees taking an active part in and contributing with comments to the debate.
It was concluded that the quantity and quality of cases of discrimination brought before the courts, and related proceedings do not reflect the reality of discrimination in the country.
In addition, it was indicated that other competent institutions, such as the Ombudsman of the Republic of Macedoniaand other equality bodies, lack the appropriate instruments for enacting their decisions and recommendations.
Participants underscored that there is room for considerable improvement of the protection from discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation and ethnic background. The ill- treatment of LGBT community and Roma was particularly stressed.
As regards the importance of education forpromoting awareness, the participants in the debate recognized the need to introduce or reinforce the agenda of human rights in the formal and informal educational curricula and the bylaws of schools and universities. It was finally agreed that despite the fact that the Macedonian anti-discrimination legislation is fairly up to date and comprehensive, there are significant weaknesses in its implementation and the respect for the values it promotes.