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News 18 May 12

Albania Gays Brave Public Disapproval

Gay rights activists held a series of public events this week in Tirana, pushing for greater acceptance of the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual lifestyle.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana
Acticvists ride for rights | Photo courtesy of Pro LGBT

A group of gay rights activist cycled down Tirana’s main boulevard on Monday, challenging homophobic mindsets by brandishing the slogan, "Make up your mind, some people are gay.”

On Wednesday a photography exhibition at the Tirana Express Cultural Center was organized by activist from the "Pro" LGBT organization.

“The goal of this exhibition was to say that we are not afraid anymore,” said Xheni Karaj, one of the activists during the opening ceremony that was guarded by police.

Human rights campaigner Delina Fico underlined the importance of the occasion, praising the activists for their courage in coming out in public.

“This community is quite substantial already, but there's a core group of activists that have brought the cause forward,” Fico noted.

While Albania's parliament decriminalised homosexuality in 1995, more than a decade and half later gays and lesbians are still heavily stigmatised.

A majority of them hide their sexual orientation, fearing that if it was discovered their safety would be endangered.

Human rights reports on Albania say ingrained attitudes among the general public leave gays and lesbians on the fringes of society.

Nor is progress straightforward, even today.

A march planned for Thursday across Tirana’s main boulevard, branded Albania's first ever gay parade, was cancelled.

Meanwhile an alternative protest by Muslim organizations, calling on society to uphold traditional family values, went ahead.

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