ALBANIA: ONE WEEK OF EVENTS TO MARK LGBT RIGHTS IN A FAST CHANGING COUNTRY
Tirana 10 May 2013 - For the first time ever the LGBT community in Albania will mark the International Day against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) in one week of events that range from Exhibitions of the LGBT movement in the country to the pride of the PINK triangle in a central boulevard of Tirana, capital of Albania. PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania is the leading organisation behind the organisation of the Festival of Diversity, that is to take place only for the second time in Albania. Last year the festival was organized not far away from the protests of the Muslim community and the statements from the vice-Minister of Defense, who said: “Lets beat them up with batons”. Altin Hazizaj, First Ambassador of PINK Embassy said: “The LGBT movement in Albania within such a short time has achieved a lot in terms of changes to laws, policies and even public perceptions. This shows that through cooperation and dialogue with institutions and general public we can bring a positive change to the lifes and the perspectives of every LGBT person. Society only benefits by respecting LGBT rights.” Albania is one of the fastest changing countries in terms of laws and policies in support of the LGBT community and their rights. However the general public opinion remains still homophobic towards gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. A recent opinion poll among young people in Albania found that more than 53 percent had a homophobic view on the life and people of the LGBT community and according to the latest European Social Survey index Albania remains a homophobic country in comparison to most European countries. Last week the Albanian parliament approved changes to the criminal Code that criminalise hate crimes and speech based on sexual orientation and gender identity, among other reasons. The changes were proposed by PINK Embassy and the Albanian Ombudsman Office. The Festival of Diversity will open on 13 May with the exhibition called “Politics of the body and soul - LGBT movement in Albania in pictures, images, videos and publications”. The exhibition is prepared by a well-known young local artist, Artan Karoli in cooperation with PINK Embassy Albania, and shows all the posters, pictures, banners, videos that have been prepared during the last 5 years that the LGBT community has started to organize into a movement.
On May 14th and 15th a series of lectures will be held at different University of Tirana faculties. On May 16th PINK Embassy in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination and the People’s Advocate will host a round table with the topic: “Albania against homophobia: LGBT in front of politics, media, youth and anti-discrimination measures”.
Activities will culminate with the Diversity Fair in down-town Tirana where institutions, human rights organizations will distribute information on diversity, discrimination, homophobia etc. At the end of the fair a big PINK triangle will be spread out, as a symbol of pride for the LGBT movement and will afterwords be used as part of an online campaign. The official IDAHO poster for Albania this year is “VOTE Diversity – Fight Homophobia”, as on June 23-rd Albanians will go to the polls to cast their vote on the new Members of Parliament. The main message behind the poster is that Albanian society is as diverse as the political spectrum of the country thus no political party and/or future government should be afraid to include LGBT issues in their work. For more information on IDAHO activities in Albania visit:
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