British gay policemen in Tirana: How we challenged discrimination at work

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Stonewall, the UK’s largest LGBT equality organization, in cooperation with Aleanca LGBT, Pro LGBT and Equal Rights Association (ERA), organized the conference “Access to Justice for LGBT Persons”.

Present at the opening remarks, Sean Melburn, Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Tirana stressed the need for education and the education of the general public. “Today more than ever we need the implementation of the current legislation as well as educating and informing the population against homophobia,” said Mr. Melbourne.

In the first part of this conference was discussed about the violence and access to the justice of the LGBT community in Albania, where the activists Kristi Pinderi, Xheni Karaj and Amarildo Fecanji shared with participants experiences from their work. According to a study conducted during 2016 by Aleanca LGBT, there were 532 cases of bullying involving insult, labeling, humiliation in public and exclusion from public transport, bars, gyms, supermarkets, and also 8 cases of physical violence reported to Aleanca. Unfortunately only 6 of them have been reported to the authorities.

According to Xheni Karaj, this is due to the lack of trust from the community members in state institutions and the fear that they could became the objective of discrimination by employees of these institutions.

“If in our beginnings we had to communicate with the police only through our allies, like embassies or other organizations, today we have managed to communicate directly with them and have their support for all our activities,” said activist Xheni Karaj during the conference.

To discuss over the partnership between police, organizations of the civil society and the LGBT community, were present policemen from the United Kingdom. Louis Provart, Chief Inspector, Norfolk Constabulary; Co-Chair of the UK National LGBT Police Association, Tatyana Arsoba from London Metropolitan Police and Peter Rigby from Staffordshire Police who are also members of the LGBT community. They shared their experience with Albanian Police colleagues, representatives of public institutions, etc.

Mr. Provart said during his speech that it is imperative for the LGBTI community in Albania to have public alliances to increase public visibility. The three police officers are visible role models for the LGBT community, within their police forces and within the UK criminal justice system more broadly.

There were also representatives from the Albanian State Police at the Conference. Police Inspector Bujar Mehmeti, specialized in the issue of diversity, said in his speech that it is very important to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the curricula of the State Police Academy. /A.A/

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