The Forum on LGBT rights in Parliament, strong messages on equality and hate speech prohibition

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Albanian Parliament held today for the first time the Civil Society Forum for LGBTI People. This forum was organized by OMSA (Open Mind Spectrum Albania) in the name of mutual agenda of CoE and EU, entitled “Horizontal Facility for the Western Balkans and Turkey”.

Representatives of diplomatic troops, CoE, Albanian Parliament, Ministries, activists of LGBT organizations and other civil society organizations, discussed and gave strong messages on respecting LGBTI rights, prohibiting hate speech, abuse and marked the institutions’ responsibility on compiling and executing inclusive and nondiscriminatory policies.

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The Head of EU Delegation to Albania, Romana Vlahutin, made an appeal to politicians and opinionists to focus on avoiding hate speech in society and respecting the engagement towards EU values.

“We don’t have much to be proud of, referring to what has happened during the previous weIMG_1711eks in social media, including the hate speech of an ex-minister or a member of the Parliament, which was followed by the disappointing silence of many political figures and institutions – which are supposed to defend the human rights”

“I am convinced that the Albanian citizens are willing to pursue tolerance and total inclusiveness. But more than that, politicians and opinionists should be willing to lead this irrevocable process and respect their engagement towards EU value, not only in papers and laws but also in implementing and their daily attitudes.”

The ambassador of the USA, Donald Lu while having a speech: “Be careful when using provocative statements”

“We have been observing Mr. Ylli Manjani, Mr. Tritan Shehu and Mrs. Oriola Pampuri. Be careful untitledbecause you also represent your supporters. We have been following the stimulated debates out of spoken words. I hope that political leaders will understand that their statements do not only represent their political beliefs but also represent people, whose votes have chosen them to be where they are now. Albanian people are tolerant and so may be politicians.

The Ombudsman, Erinda Balanca started her speech with a fresh situation that happened just before she got in the assembly room:

While I was entering in this assembly room, a microphone was positioned not in an elegant manner in front of my face. The question I got asked: “At a time when all the Albanian population is against gay marriage, why would you want to stand up for them?”

No matter the violent way the microphone was held in front of her face, Balanca shared her answer with the participants:

“I said that I am the Ombudsman and I stand up even for a single person’s rights. I don’t think that Albanian population is against gay marriage. We can be considered emancipated people, only when we’ll accept different people’s rights.

Vice-dean of The Social Sciences Faculty, Blendi Ceka presented the key findings of the survey “The political participation of LGBTI Persons in Albania”:

  • The 3 main parties have a correct legal positioning towards anti-discrimination but they lack articulation regarding the advanced rights of LGBTI community.
  • The representatives of Democracy Party are notably against regarding the advancing rights of LGBTI community, in terms of marriage and adoption.
  • The other two main parties, Socialist Party and Socialist Movement for Integration have a more tolerant attitude on advancing rights of LGBTI but hasty for the Albanian context, by forming what it’s called “the silent consensus”.
  • The smaller parties are positioned publically and speak their word freely in terms of Pros and Cons.

The Minister of Education and Sports, Lindita Nikolla was thankful to activists who participated in school meetings and held meetings with parents, friends, professors and other professionals:IMG_1787

“I would like to thank Xheni and other people who have served in 5 High Schools of Tirana, which were preys of hate speech and no good examples of abuse in social networks. These actions suggest that we should adjust our attitudes in the future”.

Xheni Karaj, the executive director of Aleanca LGBT opened a discussion about the Housing Law and inclusiveness of LGBTI people by giving the word to a transgender activist, which got banned 4 times a month from renting houses.

My name is Lola and first of all, I want to thank you for attending this activity. Lana river and the artificial lake of Tirana are being home for many members of the community, especially transgender people, who are much more evident in people’s eyes. A concrete illustration: I have been changing a number of houses. I was living in a renting house, I was correct with payments and the day after I paid a warranty payment with an extra month included, my friend and I got kicked out without even taking back the extra money we paid for. Not having much money, going from place to place… I belong to trans category and my identity is obvious. I don’t even want to hide it. Sometimes this battle I have to be part of for not hiding it, makes me doubt if I really should – since there are a lot of difficulties”. 

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At the end of this forum, Arbër Kodra, director of “Open Mind Spectrum Albania”, shared for Historia Ime his impressions on the most important messages and achievements of the activity:IMG_1825

“I didn’t expect the large number of deputies taking part, because many of them didn’t confirm, because of their other engagements. It’s positive that they are here to discuss because it’s not only their presence but also their active discussion that is important”.

Regarding the study entitled “Political Participation of LGBTI People in Albania”, Kodra pronounced that there have been given interviews by politicians, youth forums, and other actors. One of the main findings was the lack of information that the political figures had about LGBTI issues and their request to be trained.

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