Albania: LGBT community makes history with the Festival of Diversity
The Festival of Diversity broke the taboos on the LGBT community in Albania. Civil society organizations, foreign diplomats and hundreds of citizens joined PINK Embassy in downtown Tirana, to say no to homophobia and Trans phobia!
Tirana May 17th 2012 – On the International Day against Homophobia and Trans phobia, Albania held the first public outdoor activity of such scale in one of the main squares of down-town Tirana, called the “Festival of Diversity” with the motto: “Make the right move. Raise the flag”.
Organized by PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania with the participation of public institutions, those for the protection of human rights, civil society organizations and diplomatic missions in the country, the “Festival of diversity” broke taboos on the LGBT community and their arrangement in outdoor venues.
The activities of the day started early in the morning with the press conference, during which the media was introduced with the concept and goals of the Festival. In front of journalists spoke Mr. Altin Hazizaj, First Ambassador of PINK, Mrs. Filloreta Kodra, Vice Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities and Mr. Henk van den Dool, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Albania.
The Festival opened officially at 10:00 by the “Vёllezёrit Frashёri” square. But, before the opening of the festival, an unpredictable mini-parade happened when representatives of PINK Embassy, the Albanian government, the Dutch Embassy, the Ombudsman and tens of citizens walked along the “Dёshmorёt e Kombit” boulevard towards the “Vёllezёrit Frashёri” square, to join friends and colleagues who were waiting there.
Decorated with the rainbow flags the square had a big group of civil society organizations and institutions such as the Ministry of Labor, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination together with many people, young students and people from the LGBTQ community.
First Ambassador of PINK Embassy, thanked publicly all those individuals from media, politics, academia, civil society etc, who have managed, through their work and activities, to contribute in the advancement of the LGBTQ cause in large forums, therefore going against stereotypes and discrimination. Special thanks were given to all organizations which accepted the invitation to join the activities.
Welcome speeches in support of the LGBTQ cause were made from Mrs. Filloreta Kodra, vice. Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Mr. Henk van den Dool, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Alexandёr Arvizu, Ambassador of the United States of America, Mr. Clive Rumbold, Head of the Politics Section at the European Delegation, Mr. Igli Totozani, the Ombudsperson and Mrs. Irma Baraku, Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination.
One of the special moments of this part was the release of balloons in the shape of the LGBTQ flag, which then flew in the grey sky of Tirana.
Afterwards, PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania and the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination, promoted the informational/educational brochure: “My rights in front of the Commissioner” which will be distributed to the LGBT community and citizens. It will serve to inform them on the Law against Discrimination and the Commissioner’s work.
The Festival continued with the Photography Exhibition “City of Colors” by the EU Info Centre in Tirana prepared and developed by the volunteers and youth of PINK Embassy. This exhibition was opened by Mr. Clive Rumbold from the European Delegation, Mrs. Eunice Heudt from COC Netherland and Mrs. Belioza Coku, Second Ambassador at PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro.
The exhibition contains a variety of photos from urban and private settings, which resemble, in a way or another, the colors of the rainbow. Ms. Hoedt said that: “Despite the fact that this exhibition does not contain people, these pictures show that we are here, among you…” The exhibition will be open until May 31st 2012.
Later on the Festival was concluded with the screening of several short LGBTQ themed films, by the “Marubi Film Academy”. Two of these films were Albanian, one created by young director Soena Lame and the other by painter and graphic designer Artan Karoli. The movies spoke about coming out to parents and bulling in schools.
For PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania, this Festival is a culmination of efforts in order to break, once and for all, the isolating, disdainful and darkening taboos of our society which up until May 17th hadn’t had the chance to see an activity of such social and political importance, in an outdoor venue, where messages of tolerance, acceptance and love where sent against homophobia, trans phobia, hatred, exclusion and denigration.
For Albanian society, this event makes for a small social revolution, a window from where Albanian society, even though slowly, will have to look at the world. This Festival aimed to show and share with Albanian society the human optic, of an unfairly isolated, excluded and hated community which prides itself of many talented people coming from all fields of live and all regions of the country and who even though predominantly invisible, make great contribution for the development and advancement of our society.
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