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Albanian LGBT organizations dissatisfied with the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner

The Alliance against Discrimination and Pro LGBT, two organizations that promote the rights of LGBT expressed their deep disappointment for the weak and unprofessional work done by the Commissioner Against Discrimination.

Even though it is in its third year of functioning, this institution not only is unknown to the public, but what is more problematic is the fact that the LGBT communiyty, one of the marginalized communities in Albania, has lost its trust in the institution due to its slow work, raise of the deliberate bureaucratic impediments and its prolonged proccess of investigation without providing an explanation or an substantial argument.

Out of 9 cases linked to the discrimination of LGBT people directly or through hate speech, only 1 case has been concluded by this institution. This singular case is that of Tritan Shehu, an MP who refused to listen to LGBT organizations in a parliamentary hearing and who also said that homosexuality is a sickness. In that case Mrs. Irma Baraku, the Commissioner recommended to Mr. Shehu that it is inappropiate for an MP to do such declararation.

Yesterday in Tirana, while participating in a conference for LGBT rights, the Commissioner Mrs. Irma Baraku not only did not explain or provide any reason for the delay of the cases reported by the LGBT community, such as the case with of vice minister Ekrem Spahiu, but instead she  justified her inaction by accusing  LGBT organizations of “not being serious.’

She declared: “Some ghost organizations don’t act responsibly and don’t respond when we try to call them to verify the facts, and in some cases organizations are not even registered in the Court”

The Alliance against Discrimination and Pro LGBT, believe these statements given by the head of a constitutional institution that is chosen by the Parliament and paid for by the state budget are irresponsible and inaccurate.  Furthermore, they jeopardize the faith of the citizens by implying that this institution expects its work to be accomplished by civil society and that it does possess the power or legal tools to fight discrimination, which is certainly untrue.

There are at least two major cases which these organizations named above have reported to the commissioner but none of the cases have been solved.

The first case:

The irresponsible declaration of Mrs. Irma Baraku is linked especially to the case against vice Minister Ekrem Spahiu.

“Even though I have a big desire to follow the case, I have not had the opportunity of access to the facts.”-declared Mrs. Baraku.

All the Albanians had the opportunity to read and hear from the mouth of Spahiu declaring: “What remains to be done is to beat them up with a stick. If you don't understand this, I can explain it: to beat them with a rubber stick”. The EU delegation, Human Rights Watch even Amnesty International and ILGA Europe, the local and international media covered and condemned this statement, even the Prime Minister condemned it publically. So, if all these institutions had access to the facts, why is it that the only one who did not have access to the facts was the commissioner?!

We are not the ones that should inform Mrs. Baraku the meaning of facts. Instead, we want to remind her that all the institutions, civil society, citizens, and the international community are expecting more. She should address the issues and do her job, not accuse civil society for her own failure.

Mrs. Baraku didn’t explain her difficulty in processing this case during her statement yesterday.  But she has said to us and we are obliged to clarify for the public: the days when the case was being judged the journalist of Gazeta Shqiptare was on parental leave.  However this should not have prevented the Commisioner from being able to coontact her. Her lack of follow-up is unprofessional and makes us doubt the ability of the commissioner to carry the work of her institution.

The second case:

The second case has is with regard to the producers of the ‘Kanga Maggie’ festival. In last year’s edition there was a song in this festival with the title ‘No Problem’ where homosexuals where considered to have ‘genetic problems’. We immediately contacted Mr. Gjebrea and the organizers of the festivals and asked for a public apology which never came. For these reasons we reported the producers of the festivals as responsible for not taking action (a public apology) to fight discrimination and the insult to the LGBT community.

The report was made at time when the Alliance against Discrimination was in the process of reelecting its executive director and Pro LGBT was waiting the hearing where they were made official by the Court of Tirana.

For this reason the commissioner decided that none of the organizations could be considered as a legitimate actor in this case and closed it for ‘procedures’.

Only a few days later the Pro LGBT organization, after getting the official verdict from the Court of Tirana, went to the commissioner’s office and reopened the case, stating all its reasons. The commissioner decided to follow the case (to accept the report). But only a few days later the office of the commissioner decided to close the case for the second time without a stated motive. In a declaration the Commissioner announced she was closing the case and referred to Article 33 of the Law against Discrimination that requires new facts in order to vacate a previous decision.

We remind the commissioner that in the first case she closed the case due to procedural issues and not for the absence of argument or facts.

To say it in a clear way, the first time the case was closed because one of the organizations was awaiting registration in the court, and the other was officially electing the executive director, and the second time the case was closed with the argument ‘a verdict has been made’, but, in fact, neither of these decisions examined the facts of the case and rendered a judgment.

For the Alliance against discrimination

 Xheni Karaj

For Pro LGBT

 Kristi Pinderi

 

Copyright: Historiaime.com, 2012

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