From: Alice Taylor
Council of Europe Anti-Discrimination Body Suggests Same-Sex Marriage Legislation, Gender Reassignment Recognition, and Increased Support to LGBTI Community

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) established by the Council of Europe has raised concerns over a number of issues relating to the discrimination of LGBTI people in Albania.

The body, which monitors matters relating to racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance, noted that progress had been made, but said; “some issues give a rise to concern.”

It said that while some measures to combat bullying in schools had been implemented, they essentially excluded LGBTI children.

The Albanian government’s 2016-2020 LGBTI action plan, while being a “useful foundation” for change, is not fully implemented and problems remain. The ECRI said there is work to be done in preventing discrimination and promoting equality for LGBTI persons in the health and education sectors.

It also noted that same-sex partnerships and marriage is not legally recognized. This, they said, could lead to various forms of discrimination and should be rectified. The Albanian authorities should provide a legal framework that provides for the recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Furthermore, the government should create gender reassignment procedures and provide accessible mechanisms to those who wish to change their gender administratively.

ECRI also monitored the situation for intersex persons in the country. They were informed by the authorities that it is not mandatory in Albania to carry out so-called “sex-normalising” surgery on newly-born intersex babies. According to the information available, such operations are, in fact, not carried out currently in Albania at all. ECRI was informed by the authorities about their intention to look more closely into the needs of intersex persons in the country, and ECRI encouraged the authorities to do so.

The report also noted the incidence of hate speech from high-ranking political and public figures. This occurs “far too often to be considered acceptable” and was often directed at LGBTI individuals.

They found that the mechanisms for reporting and prosecuting LGBTI hate speech is “lacking” and they recommended developing a comprehensive reporting system to record incidents of hate speech.

The ECRI noted there was no real improvement over the last five years, in the situation regarding homophobic/transphobic hate speech in Albania.