An update I just received from the Gay-Straight Alliance Against LGBT Discrimination in Albania :
Following up on our first statement, we welcome the current initiative for equality for all minority groups. We also encourage support from all political parties and civil society actors to give equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. We are encouraged by the possibility of Albania joining the ranks of other countries that value equality and human rights.
However, we have been disturbed by the current tone of the public conversation in the days following the announcement that the government will support the non-discrimination bill proposed by civil society, and will support marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Marriage equality and the draft bill on non-discrimination are issues of basic human rights. However, there has been opposition by some religious leaders. These are not religious issues, these are issues of civil equality. Religious institutions are free to hold their own beliefs. However, in Albania, marriage is a civil act governed by law and secular state institutions. Similarly, non-discrimination laws are enforced by a democratic state to ensure equality for all members of society. In fact, this law would not only include protections on the basis of categories such as disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ethnicity, etc., but would also include religious belief.
Some of the comments made in public forums have been very hurtful and hateful, and highlight the homophobia and discrimination that are regularly faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Albanians. The debate has highlighted the very issues that indicate the need for an inclusive non-discrimination bill covering all marginalized groups in Albanian society.
As one of our members says, “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Albanians have suffered in silence for too long. Freedom and equality are the symbols of democracy and it is time for Albania to move forward. We exist and we want to live our lives without discrimination and without fear.”
Despite the sometimes upsetting tone of the current conversation, we fully support having an open discussion on the issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Albanians. In fact, we believe that this kind of dialogue is the only path to a more free and more open-minded society.
Aleanca Kunder Diskriminimit te LGBT is an organization of straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who stand against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We welcome the support of people of all sexual orientations who are in favour of equality and fairness.. You can find us at http://www.gayalbania.org, in the public facebook group searching: gay Albania, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.