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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Albania face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents, due in part to the lack of legal recognition for same-sex couples in the country and prevailing negative attitudes about LGBT persons throughout society, although LGBT persons in Albania are protected under comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.[1] Both male and female same-gender sexual activities have been legal in Albania since 1995, but households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-gender couples, with same-sex unions not being recognized in the country in any form.

Europe-Albania.svg
Location of Albania (green)

in Europe (dark grey)  –  [Legend]

StatusLegal since 1995, age of consent equalized in 2001
Gender identity-
MilitaryGays and lesbians are allowed to serve since 2008
Discrimination protectionsSexual orientation and gender identity protections
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex couples
Adoption-

Albania, as a whole, is considered to be rather conservative, especially in public reactions regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights and visibility of LGBT people; however, anti-discrimination legislation have made ILGA-Europe regard Albania as one of a very few countries in Europe which explicitly bans discrimination on the grounds of gender identity.[1] Albania has ratified Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, moreover Albania was a signatory to the 2007 UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.[2][3]

In 2015, the association ILGA-Europe ranked Albania 19th in terms of LGBT rights out of 49 observed European countries.[4]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activityEdit

Ottoman EmpireEdit

In 1858, the Ottoman Empire legalized same-sex sexual intercourse.[5]

Zogist eraEdit

In 1937, Musa Juka the minister of interior was concerned with the practice of homosexuality and wanted to take "take measures with all possible means" against its practice.[6]

People's Socialist Republic of AlbaniaEdit

The People's Socialist Republic of Albania penalized same-sex sexual intercourse with long prison terms, bullying and ostracism. Article 137 of the Crimes against Societal Moral of the Penal Code stated that: "Pederasty is punishable or up to ten years of freedom privation". The word "pederasty" was used as a code word for sex between two consenting adults or sex between an adult and a child of any gender.[7]

Republic of AlbaniaEdit

Albania decriminalized consensual sexual expression in 1995. The age of consent has been equal at 14 for all, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation, since 2001.[8]

In the summer of 1994 the Government of Albania put forward a draft Penal code under which homosexuality would have remained illegal, but with the maximum sentence reduced to three years. A campaign by the Gay Albania Society within Albania, and international pressure orchestrated by ILGA, in which the Council of Europe played an important role, led to the withdrawal of this draft law.

On 20 January 1995 the Albanian Parliament legalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in Albania. Article 137 of the old Penal code promulgated under socialist Albania,[9] which mandated up to ten years of prison for "being homosexual," has thus been done away with completely.

Recognition of same-sex relationshipsEdit

Same-sex marriage or civil unions are not currently recognised in Albania. Even though then Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced in July 2009 that he would support the recognition of civil marriages, the proposed anti-discrimination law, unanimously approved on 4 February 2010, never addressed same-sex marriage.[10][11] Gay rights groups praised the new law but said they hoped that Berisha would eventually keep to his promise on legalising same-sex marriage.[12]

Igli Totozani, the then People's Advocate, announced on October 2013 that he would be drafting a bill for parliament to debate on changes to the family code that would allow for same-sex marriage to be introduced.[13] But as of 2019 no change has happened, with LGBT activists criticising the inaction of the government.[14]

Discrimination protectionsEdit

On 4 February 2010, the Albanian Parliament unanimously adopted a comprehensive anti-discrimination law which bans discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. The law applies to all areas, including employment, the provision of goods and services, education, health care, and housing.[15] Albania is one of only few European countries to explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity. The law also exceeds EU minimum standards, which require that employers refrain from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[1] According to this law an institution of Anti-Discrimination Commissioner was established during 2010 and the Parliament elected Irma Baraku as head of this independent body.

However, on December 12, 2012 The Alliance against Discrimination and Pro LGBT, two organizations that promote the rights of LGBT expressed their disappointment for what they called "the weak and unprofessional work done by the Commissioner Against Discrimination".[16] According to Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi, leaders of these organizations, the LGBT community "has lost its trust in the institution due to its slow work, raise of the deliberate bureaucratic impediments and its prolonged process of investigation without providing an explanation or a substantial argument".

They argued that out of 9 cases linked to the discrimination of LGBT people directly or through hate speech, only 1 case has been concluded by this institution. The most disputed case of homophobia and hate speech was the case of Ekrem Spahiu Deputy Minister of Defense who stated to a local newspaper: “What remains to be done is to beat them up with a stick. If you don't understand this, I can explain it: to beat them with a rubber stick”. The EU Delegation in Tirana, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and ILGA Europe, the local and international media covered and condemned this statement, even the Prime Minister Sali Berisha condemned it publicly, but the Commissioner failed to follow up the case.[17]

On 4 May 2013 the Albanian Parliament unanimously amended the criminal code and put hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity on par with an offense against gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief, disability and so on. It also passed a new law punishing the dissemination of homophobic information through any means (including the internet) by a fine and up to two years imprisonment.[18]

LGBT issues in public educationEdit

 
The 7th Gay Pride in Tirana

In June 2016, the government passed the National Action Plan for LGBTI that would address bullying and LGBT discrimation in primary and secondary education with lectures and other activities.[19] The Albanian Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth expressed that in accordance to the plan, it would work with LGBT activists to fight discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.[20] The inclusion of LGBT issues in school activities created much controversy, with many political figures like Tritan Shehu, Luçiano Boçi, Mesila Doda, Nard Ndoka and Ylli Manjani expressing strong opposition to such activities.[21][22][23][24]

In response to the controversy, the Ministry of Education and Sports issued a statement on 23 March 2018, stating that contrary to media reports, it was aware of these lectures and that they were conducted in the framework of the LGBTI National Action Plan 2016-2020 which among other things aims to combat stereotypes based on sexual orientation. In a controversial statement, the director of Tirana high school “Sami Frasheri” Ms. Teuta Dobi publicly opposed such lectures, despite the fact that several weeks earlier LGBTI activists had given a lecture at her school.[25]

LGBT rights movement in AlbaniaEdit

 
Gay Pride ride 2016 in Tirana

There are three organisations in Albanian focused on LGBT rights – the three best known are Aleanca Kunder Diskriminimit LGBT (Alliance Against LGBT Discrimination), Pro LGBT and Pink Embassy/LGBT PRO ne Shqiperi. These organizations work to create a better and more equal living situation for LGBT people in Albania.

The Alliance Against LGBT Discrimination (short form: Aleanca LGBT) is an Albanian non-governmental organization founded by five lesbians.[26] It envisions a free, open and equal Albanian society that embraces diversity and is inclusive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Aleanca LGBT was created in March, 2009 by a volunteer group of LGBT young people dedicated to improving life and empowering LGBT people in Albania. Aleanca's activities include: community building, awareness raising, advocacy and lobbying. Xheni Karaj, this NGO's current director, spoke in an Ankara meeting held in March 2013 as being the first out lesbian activist in Albania.[26]

 
The 7th Gay Pride in Tirana

Pro LGBT is mainly focused on public awareness on LGBT issues and using advocacy as a tool to improve the situation of LGBT community. Recently this organization launched the human rights news portal "My Story" (historia-ime.com), which is becoming a main source to the mainstream media in Albania for LGBT issues.[27]

In December 2010, the Deputy Commission for Labour, Social Affairs and Health, Tritan Shehu, declared that "homosexuality should be treated by medical staff as hormonal disorder, as well as psychological".[28] The LGBT organizations filed a collective complaint with the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination. The Commissioner reviewed the declarations and, after a lengthy delay, on 30 September 2011 reprimanded Mr. Shehu in a letter to Parliament: “Mr. Shehu should avoid discriminatory remarks in the future, which cause an atmosphere of tension and unfriendliness towards the LGBT community in Albania." The Commissioner further recommended that Parliament should grant “all guaranties so that the thoughts, opinions and remarks of the LGBT community are heard, evaluated and taken into consideration, when they are directly involved on specific topics, in order to help the community to enjoy fully its rights and freedoms.”[29]

In 2014 the first edition of Miss Trans Albania was held in Tirana, a beauty pageant competition for trans women in Albania, aiming to raise visibility and acceptance for the transgender community.

In April 2018, Erinda Balanca, the current People's Advocate, came out in support of same-sex marriage and pledged to support LGBT rights including the right to legally change ones gender.[30]

Violence and discrimination in everyday lifeEdit

In 2018 NGOs declared that there has unfortunately been stagnation and somewhat deterioration in the respect of the rights of the LGBT + community in our Albania.[31]

According to the annual report of the organizations, by the end of 2018, there were 421 documented cases of discrimination against LGBTI members in Albania. The types of discrimination range from direct physical violence to psychological pressure such as insulting, ridiculing, labeling, malicious gossiping, humiliation on the street, not being offered service in bars, gyms, supermarkets, physical attacks violence by clients (sex workers), or on the street by homophobic persons. Out of all the cases reported, only five cases of violence were reported to authorities. [32] [33]

Religion and LGBTI people in AlbaniaEdit

Religion is not a major component of social, political and cultural life in Albania. Although religion is regarded as a private issue and is not part of political discourse, faith-based organizations have been trying to influence political decisions concerning the human rights of LGBTI people. In 19 August 2009, when ex-premier Berisha heralded a new law on anti-discrimination which would confer legal recognition and protection for the human rights of LGBTI people in Albania, religious organizations reacted en masse against the proposal. They wrote a letter to the government stating that they considered the extension of family rights to LGBTI people to be a threat to Albanian family and society. They considered homosexuality an imported habit from Western countries and urged the Prime Minister: “To do what is right in the eyes of God, and not what is right in the eyes of the modern world”.[34]

On 17 May 2012, a Muslim group, incited by faith-based leaders, organized an anti-gay demonstration in parallel with the Pro-Gay Festive Venue organized in a public open square. The demonstrators carried banners stating, “Homosexuality is a sin.” Condemning the international community for its support to LGBTI people, the leader of the Muslim protesters said that: “Albania will not join the European Union with homosexuals”, implying that if LGBTI people's rights are a membership condition, then Albania will not join the EU.

On 20 January 2016, the leaders of faith-based organizations, united to call upon the government and parliament to prohibit same-sex marriages to “protect the family from destruction”. Under strong pressure from religious leaders, and contrary to promises that sexual orientation and gender identity would be included in the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination, members of parliament removed it from Article 18 of the Constitution at the last moment. On 20 July 2016, PINK Embassy published a press declaration criticizing the withdrawal of the constitutional amendments on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, and criticized members of parliament for capitulating to religious intolerance warning that: “The submission of parliament to religious extremism is a threat to secularism and human rights.”[35]

Studies on religion in the Western Balkans show that homosexuality is perceived to be a unifying enemy promoted by Western values. The more that sexual diversity is defended by the West, the more resistance may emerge against LGBTI people's human rights. There are no faith-based groups providing support to LGBTI people.[36]

Organizations, online communities and news portalsEdit

Public opinionEdit

Social attitudes towards the LBGT community are generally negative and are among the most unfavorable in Europe. Data released by the ESS in 2013 reveal that the vast majority of Albanians are socially conservative and disapprove of the gay and lesbian community. According to the survey data, 53% of Albanians believe that "gays and lesbians should not be free to live life as they wish," the largest percentage holding that opinion in the survey.[37]

Results of previous polling by Gallup's Balkan Monitor[38] taken in 2010 show that 54.2% of Albanians consider homosexual relations wrong, while 22.7% disagree. A regional difference was observed, as respondents from Central Albania were more likely to disagree (35.5% agree, 28.2% disagree) than those from the North (59.8% agree, 16.4% disagree) or the South (71.1% agree, 17.2% disagree). Additionally, Albanian respondents were more likely to disagree than those from most neighboring Balkan countries, including North Macedonia (69.4% to 18.4%), Serbia (75.1% to 8.7%), Montenegro (65.8% to 12.1%), Kosovo (64.9% to 18.5%) and Bosnia (74.3% to 9.2%), while Croatia was comparable (50.3% to 20.4%). Other questions asked included whether homosexuals were entitled to "the same rights as all other people", to which 44.4% of Albanians agreed while 28.5% disagreed. On the other hand, 78.7% of Albanians thought "homosexual acts" were immoral, 56.2% thought that homosexuals should not have public posts (like being a teacher, the question said) and a similar number of 56.1% said they shouldn't show their preferences in public.[38]

A 2015 study on the Albanian youth aged 16–27 found that 55% would not want to have homosexual neighbours, while 34% would not care and 11% would be positive about it.[39]

A 2016 study detected that there were more manifestations of homophobia among Albanian university students than Italian university students, but less among the Albanian students than among Ukrainian university students. Among the Albanians, factors associated with homophobia included being male, being politically conservative, and being religious (although no difference was detected between Catholics and Muslims, while there weren't many representatives of other groups except for atheists in the survey). On the other hand, being politically progressive and being in a relationship were associated with decreased detection of homophobia among Albanian students.[40]

According to the results of a 2015 Balkan poll by the National Democratic Institute only 6% of the Albanians would support their child completely if they found out they there were LGBT and that figure drops to 3% if it was their friend/acquaintance/colleague. Also 8% had interacted with a person who they knew to be LGBT. In the same poll 58% of the Albanians also said they would not vote for a political party that supports LGBT rights.[41]

Summary tableEdit

Same-sex sexual activity legal   (Since 1995)
Equal age of consent (14)   (Since 2001)
Anti-discrimination laws in employment   (Since 2010)
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services   (Since 2010)
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech)   (Since 2010)
Same-sex marriages  
Recognition of same-sex couples  
Adoption by single LGBT people  
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples  
Joint adoption by same-sex couples  
LGBT allowed to serve openly in the military   (Since 2008)
Right to change legal gender  
Access to IVF for lesbians  
Conversion therapy banned on minors  
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples   (Illegal for all couples regardless of sexual orientation)[42]
MSMs allowed to donate blood  [43]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Albania protects LGBT people from discrimination". ILGA-Europe. 5 February 2010. Archived from the original on 12 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Albania page in LGBT Europe". ILGA-Europe. 8 February 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  3. ^ [UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity Wikisource: "UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity", presented to the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2008]
  4. ^ "Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe" (PDF). ilga-europe.org. ILGA-Europe. 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  5. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, authored by Lucas Paoli Itaborahy, May 2014
  6. ^ "Kur ministri i Zogut luftonte homoseksualët: Pederastia është përhapur edhe në male…" (in Albanian). Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  7. ^ Carey, Henry F. (10 October 2014). European Institutions, Democratization, and Human Rights Protection in the European Periphery. Lexington Books. p. 349. ISBN 9781498502054.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) [1] (see: Ages of consent in Europe).
  9. ^ Albanian Penal Code & Sexual Orientation from Albanian Life issue 44 #1, 1989
  10. ^ "No gay marriage for Albania". Pink News. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Albanian Gay Rights Law, Minus Marriage". The Advocate. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Gays content with rights law". The Straits Times. Reuters. 5 February 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
  13. ^ Totozani: Të lejohen martesat “gej”, top-channel.tv, 26 October 2013, in Albanian
  14. ^ ""Martesat gay", homoseksualët zbardhin tradhtinë e Ramës: Do ta ndëshkojmë". Agjencia e Lajmeve SOT NEWS. 14 August 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  15. ^ "The Bay Area Reporter Online - Albania passes model law against LGBT discrimination". Bay Area Reporter. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
  16. ^ Albanian LGBT organizations dissatisfied with the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Archived 11 April 2013 at Archive.today, historia-ime.com, 12 December 2012
  17. ^ "Albanian PM rebukes minister for anti-gay remark". The Boston Globe. 26 March 2012.
  18. ^ Dan Littauer, Albania passes landmark gay hate crime laws, gaystarnews.com, 5 May 2013
  19. ^ "Plani Kombëtar i Veprimit për Personat LGBTI" (PDF).
  20. ^ "Fushata e LGBT në shkolla, MAS: Pjesë e strategjisë kundër diskriminimit". top-channel.tv (in Albanian). Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  21. ^ "Manjani i përgjigjet Ministrisë për LGBT: Nuk do ta pranoja kurrë një shkollë të tillë për çunat e mi! - FaxWeb". FaxWeb. 24 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Nard Ndoka: Skandal i tmerrshëm që LGBT diskutojnë në shkolla "vlerat" e tyre". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  23. ^ "LGBT sulm diskriminues për takimet në shkolla: Fajin e kanë Ylli Manjani, Mesila Doda dhe Tritan Shehu | 27.al". 27.al (in Albanian). 25 March 2018. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Fushata e LGBT në gjimnaze, Luçiano Boci: Grupime me axhendë të dyshimtë, revoltuese". Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Open lectures on LGBTI rights in Albania's high schools face homophobic backlash | LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey". www.lgbti-era.org. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
  26. ^ a b Lesbian Feminists From Tunisia, Algeria, Serbia and Albania Were in Ankara, kaosgl.com, 21 March 2013, Xheni Karaj speaking on LBT rights advocacy in Albania: "Actually Aleanca started by a group of five lesbians even though now we are a mixed board of organizers. And this is interesting to happen in a society when most of people used to think that lesbians didn’t exist at all."
  27. ^ historia-ime.com: About Us Archived 23 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine, historia-ime.com, 19 July 2012
  28. ^ Kristi Pinderi, Akuzoj Tritan Shehun si politikanin e parë homofob!, pinkembassy.al, 17 May 2011
  29. ^ Besar Likmeta, Albanian MP Reprimanded for Gay Slur, balkaninsight.com, 27 October 2011
  30. ^ ""M'u vu me dhunë mikrofoni para fytyrës", Ballanca tregon pse është pro martesave Gay". Oranews. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  31. ^ https://historia-ime.com/?p=67484
  32. ^ https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vRUudj2DwJMtVuOO7jhRL_dJtJugQi3j/view
  33. ^ https://irex-europe.fr/2019/06/10/2018-report-on-the-situation-of-the-lgbti-community-in-albania/
  34. ^ "NATIONAL LGBTI REPORT UNDP 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  35. ^ "Ekstremizmi dhe intoleranca fetare nuk kanë vend në Kuvendin e Shqipërisë! - Pink Embassy". www.pinkembassy.al (in Albanian). Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  36. ^ "NATIONAL LGBTI REPORT UNDP 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  37. ^ Besar Likmeta, Albania is Europe's Most Homophobic Country, Survey Says, balkaninsight.com, 25 March 2013
  38. ^ a b Gallup Balkan Monitor database, survey data 2010: "Strongly agree" and "agree" are grouped together, as are "Strongly disagree" and "Disagree".
  39. ^ "Albanian Youth 2015" (PDF). "Friedrich Ebert" Foundation: 35.
  40. ^ Cross-cultural and socio-demographic correlates of homophobic attitude among university students in three European countries, Legal Journal of Endocrinological Investigation
  41. ^ jfrant_2 (28 October 2015). "NDI Poll on LGBTI Issues in the Balkans is a Call to Action". Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  42. ^ SURROGACY LAW AROUND THE WORLD
  43. ^ Dhurimi i gjakut, çfarë duhet të dimë dhe kush nuk mund të dhurojë

External linksEdit