From: Alice Taylor
Norwegian Helsinki Committee Speaks as Anti-LGBTIQ Sentiment Simmers in Albania

The following article contains triggering language and mentions of anti-LGBTIQ slurs. 

The Norweigan Helsinki Committee has called on the Albanian government to investigate threats against human rights activist Xheni Karaj.

Karaj and her organization, Aleanca LGBT, publicly supported the plight of a lesbian couple who wanted to register their twin daughters under their names. The way Albanian family and civil law is worded means that presently, two mothers cannot both be recognized as parents to a child, making it impossible for the lesbian couple to register the twin daughters as theirs. The issue extends further, as registration in the civil registry is necessary for a sleuth of other administrative procedures, including for access to doctors and healthcare, passports, and education.  

After Karaj publicly backed the mothers who have asked for additions to be made to the law to allow the word “parents” to appear alongside mother and father, some Albanian media portals published misleading headlines. They claimed that LGBTQI activists wanted to replace the words “mother” and “father” with “parent 1” and “parent 2,” but this was not the case.

The organizations issued a public call on the media to refrain from publishing misleading titles as it has incited significant hatred against those involved. Karaj herself has since been inundated with countless threats via social media.

Some of the messages include the following:

“We will get you, tie your hands and feet with ropes and pull you with two cars to split your body in two right in the middle of the square.”

“You deserve the gas chamber, you f*got. You shame our society. F*ck you.”

“Xheni you are a bad seed, an animal, f*ck you. One day we will cut off your head and the heads of all the b*tches and f*gots. Get out of this country before we kill you.”

“You should be hanged in the middle of Tirana”

“If you go out on the streets, let’s see if you survive.”

Other messages included threats of rape and further violence.

Karaj was also exposed to further homophobic slurs while taking part in a  TV show. Journalist Blerta Tafani said that same-sex couples “degenerate society” and that children born to LGBTIQ parents are a “great misfortune”. She also claimed that adopted children aren’t healthy.

“Psychologist” Marsela Lekli claimed that children raised by same-sex parents will grow up to be LGBTIQ.

Exit was able to verify with the Order of Albanian Psychologists that Lekli is not a psychologist by profession, does not hold a warrant or license, and is not legally allowed to practice as one in Albania.

“The psychologist Mrs Lekli is not a member of our order. According to the law, each psychologist who practices the profession must be a member and have the licence too. If he or she doesn’t have it, [they] must not work as a psychologist. Every institution that hires such psychologists should take all the responsibilities and take all measures to prevent these psychologists from working, because if not, then they are breaking the law,” they said.

Just days after the furor of online hatred started, a trans woman was attacked by 10 men in Tirana. The woman said she knew the assailants as there were from her neighborhood, adding they saw her almost everyday and usually left her alone. But on this occasion, they attacked her, injuring her arms and pulling clumps of hair from her head.

The incident is being investigated by the police.