Albania has ranked 28th out of 49 countries in Europe and Central Asia in ILGA-Europe’s 2021 Rainbow Map based on the organization’s annual review of the human rights situation of LBGTI people in the designated area.
According to ILGA, Albania has achieved only 32% of its human rights goals regarding the protection and support of LGBTI people. That is slightly lower than Europe’s overall 38% and 16 points lower than the EU average of 48%.
In Albania, LGBTI people have to rely on the support of Civil Society Organizations like Streha and Aleanca LGBT for food, shelter, and to help file asylum applications.
An Aleanca survey found that 79% of LGBTI respondents want to leave Albania, although many of their claims had been rejected. This is in line with the report’s finding that many countries have become more stringent in granting asylum requests.
The report found that LGBTI people and organizations in Albania face discrimination across the spectrum. For example, [it] took Aleanca almost a year to find a space for their community centre, having been turned down by several property owners, saying they did not want ‘faggots’ money'”.
Furthermore, “Aleanca’s study with LGBTI high school and university students found that 65% feel unsafe at school; 93% heard homophobic slurs in school very often and almost a third have skipped or changed schools due to bullying.”
It also mentioned the lack of advancement on issues pertaining to civil rights, referring to the fact that in June 2021, Albanian “authorities refused to register two women, who are a same-sex couple, as parents of their two children. The case is now at the Administrative Court.”
ILGA states that Albanian media has an issue with hate speech directed at the LGBTI community. The report references journalist Blerta Tafani’s homophobic statements where she said on national TV that “it’s a great misfortune [that an LGBTIQ person] gives birth to a child.”
And it mentions also a meeting of the Coalition for the Traditional Family’s meeting that peddled conversion therapy, as well as an interview where representatives of this coalition claimed that “homosexuality” can be cured.
On this matter, ILGA mentioned that “a Council of Europe study found that two-thirds of hate speech incidents in Albania target LGBT people.”
The report also found that Albanian CSOs have little support from the Albanian government in advancing public education on LGBTI issues, or in implementing the National LGBTI Action Plan which passed in November.
“The implementation of the previous National LGBTI Action Plan remained flawed, with only the Ministry of Health and Social Protection fulfilling their responsibilities and cooperating with CSOs,” the report states.
There is also little will for collaboration on the part of political parties, with “none of the political parties running in the elections answered Aleanca’s questionnaire on LGBTI right issues, or include LGBTI issues in their programmes.”
Nevertheless, in February 2022, CSOs published the manual ‘Political Participation of LGBTI Persons: A Guide for Albanian Political Parties’ which is the first of its kind in Albania.
Overall, Albania fared on par with other countries in the region and better than Eastern Europe. In general, the report noted “a severe rise in 2021 of anti-LGBTI rhetoric from politicians and other leaders.”
But it also found that there has been “an allied determination in many countries, and at the European level, to tackle hatred and exclusion of LGBTI people,” with civil city organization filling the gaps.