On 13 October 2015, the initial event was organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights for the project against hate speech, supported by the NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The Platform for Combating Hate Speech was promoted, which is open for organizations and individuals, and is coordinated by the Committee. The Metamorphosis Foundation is a member, of the many member organizations in this platform. The Wall of Shame was also promoted at this event, in order to raise public awareness of the presence of hate speech in the public sphere. The “Analysis of the situation, protection and opportunities for prevention of hate speech in the Republic of Macedonia” was also presented, prepared by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
Some of the findings of the Analysis were shared with the public during the initial event, pointing out that the highest frequency of hate speech was observed during the pre-election period on the basis of ethnicity.
Also, according to the same findings, most of the reports of hate speech are based on ethnicity, race and religion, on the basis of language and nationality. Hate speech based on gender, sexual orientation and gender identity is not excluded either.
During the event, Elena Brmbeska, project coordinator, said: “There is low awareness among citizens about what is actually hate speech. For that purpose, we undertake a series of activities to raise awareness among citizens, the public prosecutor’s office has a low response to hate speech, the legal definition is quite weak and has no consequences. The project includes several activities that include lobbying for the prevention of hate speech, as well as raising awareness among citizens and institutions.”
The installation of the “Wall of Shame” during this initial event, related to the anti-hate speech project, was aimed at pointing out the presence of hate speech in the public sphere, and such presence is encouraged by public appearances of persons who regularly use and spread hate speech.
Kocho Andonovski, program director of the LGBTI Support Center and the first gay man to publicly announce his sexual orientation, also addressed the event, noting that hate speech after 10 years is intensified and increasingly progresses: “10 years ago when I went out for the first time as a gay man in Macedonia, there were negative reactions, but there was no hate speech on such a scale. Unlike then, today we, unfortunately, instead of having even less, we are back to ten years ago, and now hate speech has not only become commonplace, but hate speech has also entered our homes, something that is astonishing for a society that should progress and open up more and more.”
Source: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia. (13.10.2015) Promotion of the project against hate speech