One Equal World

Albanian Prime Minister Declares Support for LGBT Rights

Posted on: April 24, 2013

On Monday, April 22nd, the Albanian Prime Minister made history by meeting with two LGBT activists. Homosexuality was decriminalized in the European country in 1995, and all-inclusive anti-discrimination laws were passed in 2010. So why is the Prime Minister’s meeting with LGBT activists so groundbreaking?

Even with all its LGBT-inclusive laws, Albania remains a country plagued by homophobia. According to a 2013 European Social Survey, 53% of the 1200 respondents are opposed to homosexuality and believe that “gays and lesbians should not be free to live life as they wish.” That makes Albania the most homophobic country in Europe.

Dr. Sali Berisha declared his full support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.

Dr. Sali Berisha declared his full support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.
Image: isafmedia via Flickr CC

So when Dr. Sali Berisha, Prime Minister of Albania, met with activists Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi and declared his full support of LGBT rights and marriage equality, that really was something. Berisha first announced his support of same-sex civil marriages in 2009, and is currently seeking reelection for what would be his third term.

Other politicians in Albania aren’t so progressive as Dr. Berisha, though. According to LGBTQ Nation, Vice-Minister of Defense Ekrem Spahiu recently stated, “What remains to be done is beat them up with a stick. If you don’t understand this, I can explain it: to beat them with a rubber stick.”

Tritan Shehu, Deputy Commissioner for Labour, Social Affairs and Health, called homosexuality a hormonal and psychological disorder that should qualify for medical treatment.

“It’s part of a mentality that does not see us as members of the community, and often perceives [being gay] as a phenomenon imported from developed countries and that there is no such thing as homosexual in Albania,” said Karaj. “People should understand that we have been, are, and will continue to be Albanians that are homosexual.”

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