Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Albania protects LGBT people from discrimination

In light of yesterday's post about the Virginia Governor removing protections for LGBT people, this from Albania.

Albania protects LGBT people from discrimination

On 4 February 2010, the Parliament of Albania unanimously adopted all inclusive anti-discrimination law which bans discrimination in on the grounds of various characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

ILGA-Europe welcomes this development and congratulates Albanian human rights groups and LGBT activists as well as Albanian politicians for making a joint effort to tackle discrimination.

Albania is a potential candidate country for joining the European Union and is required to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. ILGA-Europe regards new Albanian anti-discrimination legislation as very positive step as Albania is now one of a very few countries in Europe which explicitly bans discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. It also goes further compared to some latest EU Member States which only ban discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment and not in other areas of life.

Lilit Poghosyan, ILGA-Europe’s Policy & Programmes Officer, who oversees the organisation’s work in the Western Balkans, said:

“We congratulate Albania on this important step towards EU integration and elimination of all forms of discrimination. We hope that the new Albanian anti-discrimination law will be a good example for other countries in the region aspiring to join the European Union and have not yet adopted similar laws.

Moreover, we hope that Albanian example will influence Macedonian authorities to revisit their recent decision to delete sexual orientation from the list of banned grounds of discrimination in their anti-discrimination bill currently being debated. Macedonia is a candidate country for EU membership and is under obligation to provide protection against sexual orientation discrimination.”

Digger comments:
Some folks in Albania are giving some of the credit for this legislation to US Ambassador John Withers for supporting Albania's LGBT community. Ambassador Withers has personally met with key LGBT group and human rights organization leaders. He was the primary speaker at a public International Day Against Homophobia lecture, has written an op-ed for an Albanian newspaper, and supported numerous other activities designed to build support for LGBT human rights. He is an example of the difference folks in the foreign service can make in the lives of the LGBT community everywhere.

1 comment:

Mindy Michels said...

Ambassador Withers has been partner and I are posted in Albania. Ambassador Withers spoke to us last fall, asking how he could help with gay issues in Albania, which were absolutely invisible (we had been here for 2.5 years at that point). We began asking around and meeting human rights activists, and finally met some gay Albanians, many of whom did not know anyone else. That was the beginning of a new Albanian LGBT group, which has been growing, and growing, and growing over the past year. Now there are social events and a discussion group and outreach events and a vibrant facebook group. Suddenly people who have been isolated and alone are finding community.

It is beyond my ability to use words to explain what a liberating feeling it is to be with all of them. And, while I firmly believe this would have happened sooner or later here, I believe equally as firmly that it happened NOW because of what John Withers said to us last fall and our response to his request.

It is a privilege to be here in this moment, and it is a privilege to be at an Embassy with Ambassador Withers.