Annual Review 2011
Bias motivated violence
- There were various cases of homophobic and transphobic violence reported throughout the year. Members of the trans community in particular found themselves to be target of young people, the police, and customers (when they are sex workers) on a regular basis.
- In August, police offi cers seriously assaulted a trans woman in Tirana whilst investigating the theft of a necklace in a park. The woman was part of a group of trans people who intervened when police offi cers wanted to detain a young man as part of their theft investigation. The victim was beaten by police offi cers whilst in custody, she was then given hospital treatment before being returned to the police station. Despite being unable to read or write, she was asked to sign various documents. At no time was she off ered access to legal representation.
- In October, a gay couple from Tirana were attacked by the brother of one of the victims, who also threatened to kill them. They reported the case to the police but when they explained the context, police offi cers ridiculed and insulted them because of their sexual orientation, and detained them for 10 hours, rather than taking a statement and treating them as victims. With the help of Pink Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania they fi led a complaint with the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination. Pink Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania referred the case to the Family Violence Section of Tirana Police and asked them to investigate the police offi cers involved.
Equality and non-discrimination
- One of the priorities for Albania in 2011 (as part of the EU integration process) was the improvement of the situation of the LGBT community. In February, the Ministry of Labour, Social Aff airs and Equal Opportunities and the Council of Europe organised a meeting in the framework of a joint project to Fight discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The aim of the meeting was to start the discussion on the development of an Action Plan to prevent discrimination against LGBT people in the country. This will be a two year project with the Ministry of Labour coordinating the work for developing and implementing the Action Plan. LGBT organisations are to be part of the process.
- In October, the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination upheld a complaint by Pink Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania and Aleanca (Alliance Against LGBT Discrimination) against a Member of Parliament and Vice Chairman of the Commission of Labour, Social Issues and Health, who, during a hearing of the Commission on the World AIDS Day, had said that homosexuality was a disease and should be treated with hormones. The Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination sent a letter to the Member of Parliament concerned recommending that he avoid discriminatory remarks, “which cause an atmosphere of tension and unfriendliness” towards the LGBT community in Albania. The letter also recommended that all possible guarantees be put in place to ensure that the thoughts, opinions and remarks of the LGBT community be heard, evaluated and taken into consideration, when they are directly involved on specific topics, in order to help the community to fully enjoy its rights and freedoms.
- The Commission for Protection against Discrimination, however, did not consider an official request from PINK Embassy/LGBT Pro Albania to organise a hearing for LGBT people living with HIV/AIDS, but conducted a hearing without informing any of the organisations who had requested it.
- In July, the Ministry of Labour, Social Aff airs and Equal Opportunities organised a conference on the rights of LGBT people. The aim of the conference was the creation of the Action Plan regarding the needs of the LGBT community. The panel included the Minister of Labour and was the first public event where a Minister agreed to discuss LGBT issues. Some of the most important media channels covered the event, which was well attended by civil society.
Freedom of expression
- There was significant media coverage of the IDAHO as marked by LGBT human rights defenders with a series of activities including a stand in central Tirana where people could express their views against discrimination, and where free t-shirts with anti-homophobia messages were available. There were also film screenings, a public lecture at Tirana University, a poster campaign entitled Homophobia has had its day, and a Rock against Homophobia concert. The event was covered by every national TV outlet, with many stories highlighting the inequality faced by LGBT people in the country. Police and law enforcement Throughout the year, there were reported cases of police violence against LGBT people either on the streets or at police stations, as well as refusals by the police to record crimes committed against LGBT people when they tried to report them. Various cases were reported to the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination. However, on a positive note:
- In December, Aleanca established cooperation with the State Police at a series of events; Aleanca's Executive Director and the Chief Commissar of the State Police participated in a conference Combating Homophobia by police forces organised by ILGA-Europe.
- Later in December, a discussion panel addressed the situation of hate crimes against the LGBT community and how the police and justice system should improve the handling of such cases; this took place in Tirana at an event organised by the US Department of State to consider assistance towards victims and witnesses in the Criminal Justice System. Aleanca's Executive Director and a Chief Inspector from the State Police were on the panel, and those present included judges, prosecutors, representatives of the State Police and civil society. The meeting demonstrated a will to improve things in future.
- At the end of December, Aleanca organised a training of six police offi cers at the organisation’s Community Centre, together with the Advisor to the Albanian State Police at the International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Programme (ICITAP). Following the training, one participant, who teaches at the Police Academy, showed a willingness to have Aleanca present in his classes to discuss LGBT issues. In 2012, Aleanca are expected to continue working closely with the ICITAP. The organisation has been invited to be part of a working group established by the State Police Academy and ICITAP to revise the curricula of the Police Academy. The organisation is also in discussion with the ICITAP about the possibility of signing a Memorandum of Cooperation with the State Police.