Home » Clerics denounce gender equality in North Macedonia, Serbia
Balkans News North Macedonia Serbia

Clerics denounce gender equality in North Macedonia, Serbia

Clerics denounce gender equality in North Macedonia, Serbia

Orthodox Easter messages delivered by two senior clerics in North Macedonia and Serbia have sparked criticism, with Metropolitan Petar of the Prespa-Pelagonija eparchy of the Macedonian Orthodox Church causing particular outrage with his suggestion that gender equality is “blasphemous” and a “poisonous and perverted ideology” that threatens society.

“God created the male and the female, and anything else that is changed and different from God’s creation is abnormal, and therefore unacceptable,” Metropolitan Petar said.

The cleric also claimed that women’s rights lead to divorce.

“In the past century, before feminism and the emancipation of women, [a woman] has been a wife, mother, housewife, and today she is highly emancipated and in top societal positions. But she is also often divorced and a single parent,” he said.

North Macedonia’s Social Affairs Minister Jovanka Trencevska responded furiously with a message on Facebook addressing the cleric, saying that “this is not the time of the inquisition, Bishop”.

“What is blasphemy is the poison that you unleash and with which you insult and humiliate 51 per cent of the population,” Trencevska wrote.

“We live in a democracy, at a time when perhaps not every woman is loud and brave, but they are loud and brave fighting for gender equality. For their rights and the rights of every other woman. For the rights of every individual in society,” she added.

In neighbouring Serbia, Patriarch Porfirije of the Serbian Orthodox Church raised eyebrows with his Easter message opposing gender-sensitive language.

Last Thursday, at the start of the Orthodox Easter celebrations, he said that the Serbian language must be protected from “violence” imposed by legal provisions that introduce “so-called gender-sensitive language”.

Patriarch Porfirije argued that “the fight against marriage and the family as established by God” was the concealed motive behind moves to adopt such language.

Asked about the patriarch’s views, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic told a press conference on Friday that he didn’t dare to comment, but added that Serbia is a secular state in which matters of state are separate from the church.

“We have the principle of secularity. It is well known who decides on laws and who passes decisions on other issues,” Vucic said.

The patriarch’s views sparked a backlash on Twitter, however.

“Femicide, obstetric violence, unpaid alimony, poor work by social services, economic insecurity and all the other forms of insecurity… maybe these things endanger marriage and the family a ‘little’ more,” wrote Pavle Grbovic, head of the Movement of Free Citizens, a Serbian opposition group.

In both North Macedonia and Serbia, Orthodox Christians make up the majority of the population. Efforts in both countries to introduce laws that would ensure greater equality and combat gender-based discrimination have been met with strong opposition from the church.

Human rights advocates have often accused the authorities in both countries of being too accommodating towards the church’s stances, or not resolute enough to contradict them, despite the fact that both are officially secular states.

Source: Balkan Insight