The 6th Annual Tirana Gay (P)Ride was held today without any incidents. Profiting from the excellent weather and the presence of LGBT activists from the region, dozens of Albanian LGBT people, activists, and allies biked from the Palace of Congresses through Bllok and along the Lana, on bikes decorated with rainbow flags and balloons.
Because foreign embassies had sent out warnings to foreigner citizens living in Albania because of the opposition protest, which had been planned on the same day, there was only little representation from the international community.
In a public statement, Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi express their “disappointment” with the international community:
We also had the opportunity to read the announcements of the embassies around this day and we were deeply disappointed to read some embassies asking their citizens to avoid our pride event. This was disappointing to us because we have literally been evacuated in several other cities of the region when violence has break through those pride events or threats have jeopardized those events (just to mention you Belgrade Pride, Budva Pride or Montenegro Pride) – but we have never, ever seen international community boycotting those events.
Because we fully understand that the embassies in Tirana have the duty to protect the lives of their citizens, we don’t get this wrong and of course we respect your decision and we stand with solidarity along your security concerns.
That being said, we are more than happy to notice that for the first time Tirana Pride was full with young Albanian strong women and men who now believe that time has come for them to go out of the closet and not hide anymore in the parks or end up in the zoo!
The police accompanied the parade throughout, while no acts of violence or hate speech occurred.
This year, the Tirana Gay (P)Ride, the first large-scale LGBT rights event held in Albania since 2011, was more openly political than in previous years. The large banner, unfolded in the last part of the pride event, read “The time of promises is over.”
In spite of elections promises, the Rama government has failed over the last four years to improve the legal framework of LGBT in particular and minority rights in general, in spite of several initiatives taken by local NGOs and the international community.
Karaj, director of the Alliance against LGBT Discrimination stated:
Our Parade is not for fun but is a political action. A political action that this year wants to show people that the time of promises is over and that the time has come for concrete results.