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Albania celebrates gay life with festival for IDAHO

Albania celebrates gay life with festival for IDAHO

Pink Embassy and LGBT Pro Albania have organised a weeklong celebration which includes the countries second Festival of Diversity, LGBT exhibitions and lectures.

It is all part of making a stand as Albania celebrates International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) for the fifth time this week, culminating on IDAHO day on 17 May.

Albania is considered one of the most homophobic countries in Europe but this year has been making progress, including bringing in new legislation. A recent study by the FES Foundation found that more than 50% of Albanian youth are homophobic.

General manager for Pink Embassy, Amarildo Fecanji told Gay Star News: ‘Homophobia, prejudice and discrimination still prevail and many officials fail to refrain from discriminatory remarks or from taking positive measures in this regard.

‘At a heated public debate, one such member of politics, Murat Basha declared that he would “hit a bullet in his son’s forehead, if he found out he was a homosexual”.

‘Albanian society continues to remain largely homophobic and ill informed about LGBT issues.’

Last year the Festival of Diversity saw 200 LGBTs and supporters attend. Fecanji thinks this is because ‘LGBT people have been “inexistent” in the past. But it’s not because they have not been here.

‘It’s because society has not allowed them to freely express their sexual orientations and gender identities.

‘What is a problem in the Albanian context, is a general lack of information on sex, sexuality and the fact we have never gone through a sexual liberation phase as a nation or as a society.

‘Most Albanian people will still have an issue talking about sex in general, let alone gay sex.’

But the LGBT community in Albania is growing in confidence. This year Pink Embassy estimates that 400 to 500 LGBTs and their supporters will attend the IDAHO events.

Fecanji explains: ‘Institutions such as the People’s Advocate and the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination are doing a remarkable job in strengthening LGBT rights.

‘In the last five months the Commissioner has taken three important decisions condemning discriminatory speech and publications.’

But for now the ‘LGBT movement does not want to put pressure on LGBT people, because we are very much aware of the risks and dangers that each LGBT individual faces from their families and society in general.

‘We are here to inform society, raise awareness and become a door, where LGBT people who need us can knock.’ Explained Fecanji.

To show your support for LGBT Albanian community visit the Pink Embassy website.