From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Media Council and Alliance Against Hate: Hate Speech Leads to Hate Crimes

The Albanian Media Council has issued a statement on the way in which the media has handled the recent debates on LGBTIQ rights in Albania.

They noted with “great concern” that the debate has escalated with reference to the naming terminology of parents on official documents. It continues that many portals have rushed to cover the debates that were held on television and in the process, misleading the public on what was said.

“While the LGBTI community demands that in addition to the terms “mother” and “father” the terms “parent 1” and “parent 2” be added, which will enable their children to be officially registered, many portals have reflected the debate as the LGBT community requires the “removal” of the words mother and father from the dictionary,” it notes.

The Council urges the portals to correct the mis-citation to avoid inciting further hate speech that has followed the debate.

They add that they support activist Xheni Karaj who has been on the receiving end of death and rape threats.

“KSHM supports the activist Xheni Karaj and freedom of expression, strongly condemning any kind of violent and discriminatory message against her, sent privately or publicly on social networks.

KSHM supports the freedom of every individual to freely express their opinions for and against the topic in question, but categorically condemns any statement or utterance that turns the debate into aggression, violence, and discrimination.”

They advised Top Channel and ABCNews, the portals where the debates were held, to properly moderate comments on social media and YouTube and to remove violent or inciting comments left by members of the public.

The Council also published a joint statement from the Alliance Against Hate, comprising of them, the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commissioner for Discrimination, and AMA.

They condemned the rhetoric in the media and online over the last week and expressed its determination to combat “threats, hate speech, and any kind of violence or incitement to use violence, used by various public individuals, in television shows, print media, online, or social networks against activists, the rights of the LGBTI community, or any other community.”

Additionally, they condemned the recent attack against a trans activist by 10 men in the center of Tirana, noting that such attacks take place due to “prior tolerance of hate speech.”

“The “Alliance Against Hate” draws attention and urges the Albanian public to be tolerant, friendly, and accepting of diversity in society, to strengthen support for marginalized groups, and to show that despite differences, we are all equal. Hate speech very easily leads to hate crimes.”

They expressed their support and respect for the human rights of the LGBTI community and for their right to live free from discrimination and fear.

“A society is happier and more emancipated if it manages to accept in its bosom all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender identity, beliefs,” it concludes.