From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
LGBT Organizations Denounce Rama’s Pinkwashing and Religious Hate Speech

LGBT rights organizations Alliance Against LGBT Discrimination and Pro LGBThave denounced the successive statements of Prime Minister Edi Rama, female cabinet members, and religious leaders relating to the Albanian LGBT community in the past few days.

During his speech at the UN General Assembly Meeting in New York on September 27, Prime Minister Edi Rama claimed that:

Among the most important foundation stones of this agenda are the action plans for Roma, Egyptians, LGBTI, people with disabilities, for which there are concrete plans that are being implemented and which will guarantee the rights of these groups that often happen to be marginalized in a dishonest, unjust manner.

More recently, the female ministers of the Rama government wrote admiringly in a letter to the Dutch government that the Netherlands “became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001. […] There is indeed a great deal to admire and certainly to learn from you.” The letter was part of a propaganda offensive of the Albanian government to persuade the Dutch government to approve the opening of EU accession negotiations next week.

In their response, the LGBT rights organizations attacked the statements of the government as not representative of the lived reality of LGBT Albanians:

Prime Minister Edi Rama used the cause of LGBTI and other marginalized communities to further nourish the false and untrue image of Albania as an accepting country where institutional commitment has greatly improved the lives of marginalized communities.

The empty promises of the government and the hypocritical statements of the past days, undermine significantly our efforts to cooperate with state institutions, making it impossible to create genuine communication channels. Albania is still far from what’s being proclaimed by the Prime Minister at the UN. […]

In our day-to-day work we see that the institutional commitment to take concrete measures to improve the living conditions of the LGBTI community remains very low, and such topics are only publicly mentioned in the UN Assembly or in English-language letters directed to the Dutch Parliament or similar institutions.

The LGBT organizations were not the only social group responding negatively to the government’s misleading claims regarding LGBT rights. The archbishop of Durrës–Tirana, George Frendo, wondered:

To legalize abortion and gay marriage is a sign of an emancipated society? Is that a sign of progress? Dear ministers, I beg you: the Albanian family distinguished as a very unified and stable core. Defend human life, defend the Albanian family!

Also the mufti of Tirana declared: “Albania shouldn’t destroy the basic cell of society, the family, to integrate in Europe.”

The LGBT organizations responded that Albania is a secular country, and that religious leaders “do not have the right to speak on behalf of the Albanian people,” denouncing the discriminatory language used in the responses of the Catholic and Muslim leaders:

Regarding the reactions of representatives of the Catholic clergy, who are concerned about why ministers undertake to speak on behalf of the Albanian people, we recall the fact that these individuals themselves do not have the right to speak on behalf of the Albanian people and the right to decide that what will the women and girls of this country do with their bodies. We kindly want to remind that for more than 25 years, this right has been acquired and based on the secularism of our state, it is an irrevocable and uncontested right. We also express concern about the statements of the Mufti of Tirana and the outdated concepts of the family used in his statement. Such discriminatory language has no place in today’s society.

LGBT people in Albania continue to face daily discrimination. The Rama government has failed to implement several legislative reforms promised at the beginning of its first mandate, while dozens of LGBT Albanians have received asylum in third countries because of the discrimination and violent oppression they often face.