From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
LGBTI Human Rights Workshop In Tirana

Today, a collaboration between The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Open Minds Spectrum Albania (OSMA) will result in a specialised workshop being held in Tirana that will encourage the countries businesses to support the rights of LGBTI individuals.

The HRC is America’s largest civil rights organisation with over 3 million members and focuses on supporting equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals and the community as a whole. In Albania, OSMA led by Executive Director and activist Arber Kodra seeks to not only change public perceptions, but to enact positive changes in policy and attitudes from government and the authorities.

Whilst the official line in Albania is that LGBTI individuals are treated as equal, this is sadly not the case. Members of the community are commonly kicked out of home or accommodation, fired from their employment, abused, harassed, and ostracised from society based purely on their sexual preference. Albanian attendees at Pride events are often masked to hide their identity and LGBTI individuals are forced to live in the shadows, not revealing their true identity. In addition to this, LGBTI individuals are not permitted to enter into marriage or a civil union and such are not recognised in the country, even if performed outside of Albania.

The workshop will take place in Tirana between the 27th and 29th of January and will bring together stakeholders from a number of local businesses as well as activists and members of the community.

Arber Kodra stated that he hopes the workshop will be another step towards opening a broader dialogue about LGBTI rights in Albania.

“The workshop has a big importance for me in my country,” said Kodra. “This workshop itself has its own theory of change, which is built around the long-term impact that it aims to achieve.”

Global Deputy Director of HRC, Jean Freedberg is expected to attend the event and spoke of hopes for a positive outcome;

“It’s a great opportunity to bring to a part of the world a group of LGBTI activists to share ideas and to network and to devise strategies to help them engage businesses.”