From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Political Parties Hesitant to Take a Stance on LGBTI Rights in Albania

A study presented yesterday in Tirana shows that Albanian political parties are not against LGBTI rights and equality, but are hesitant to make their stance public.

The study, conducted by Dr Ersida Teliti, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Tirana, was designed to identify the opportunities to increase the political participation of the LGBTI community in Albania. It was presented at the LGBTI Civic Engagement Programme; Politics and Representation for the Advancement of the LGBTI Community Rights in Albania, organised by OMSA, the European Union and the Council of Europe.

The methodology used identified the current situation of political participation, how to increase the number of LGBTI in political party structures, identifying the voting behaviour of the community, and ascertaining  “electoral costs’ for entities if they support the LGBTI community in their programme. 

Teliti conducted structured interviews with a total of 69 representatives from the Socialist Party, Democratic Party, LSI, smaller parties, four local LGBTI NGOs and representatives from international organisations. 

The results found that the PS, PD and LSI combined had a neutral/slightly positive positioning, but that this was not made public. Those parties with less electoral and institutional weight had much clearer articulated stances, either pro or counter positioning. 

In terms of the main three parties, the report found that they had politically correct positioning regarding the legal framework against discrimination, support for resolutions and action plans. There was, however, limited articulation.

There were no identified instances of LGBTI persons in local or central government and none identified within party structures. Reasons, why these persons are either not in positions or choose to hide their sexuality, including personal and social cost, family consequences and societal eligibility reasons. Overall, there is a general fear that their career would be destroyed.

Another issue that was identified was the lack of information on issues facing the community. There was an overwhelming belief that “LGBTI needs” equates to same-sex marriages and that all LGBTI Albanians enjoy equal rights. Those interviewed stated that because their rights are guaranteed by law, any claims of issues is a deliberate exaggeration to gain more funds.

Recommendations of the study include encouraging political parties to take a public position on LGBTI issues and rights, organising joint part-community meetings, increasing legal and institutional engagement in LGBTI issues, and increasing the understanding of LGBTI needs. There is also a need for hate speech monitoring, political accountability for those that engage in hate speech and increase ethics.