News & Politics

On the road to freedom

Double rainbow over Tirana, Albania. Photo taken a few weeks ago.

 

As I mentioned in my last post, I want to give a little bit of international flair to the site.  Granted, Julieta has taken over my old beatthe Latin beat.  So, since I have physically moved on, I will in my blogging as well.   I now live in Albania, a wonderful little country just to the right of Italy on a map and north of Greece (See map below).

Like many developing countries, LGBT rights are still an everyday struggle in Albania.  Violent repression is still present. As is fear.  Many people live closeted lives.  Few have the role models they need to be able to imagine a world where they can marry their partner, where they can openly have children, where they can express their love in the streets, or even, more fundamentally, that they can accept who they are and love themselves.

According to Wikipedia:

See? Now you know where Albania is!

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Albania are protected under a comprehensivesive anti-discrimination legislation.[1] Both male and female same-gender sexual activities are legal in Albania, but households headed by same-gender couples are not eligible for the same legal protections available to opposite-gender couples.

Albania, as a whole, is considered to be rather conservative, especially in public reactions regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights and visibility of LGBT people; however, recent anti-discrimination legislation have made ILGA-Europe regard Albania as one of a very few countries in Europe which explicitly bans discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. [2] Albania has ratified Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, moreover Albania was a signatory to the 2007 UN Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.[3]

But, change is coming.  Freedom is coming.

Albania has a growing group of LGBT rights activists.  More and more people are coming out, even if it is only to those they love.  Foreigners living in the city have taken action to support the capacity of LGBT rights groups.

I hope, while I am living here, to get to know some of the groups and support (and document) their advocacy activities.  For now, I have a list of organizations to reach out to:

And, I have this video, “Hidden Among You,” about the LGBT community in Albania that I want to share with you.  (I found it on Historie Ime‘s website; translation: “my story”, and have put it here with their permission).  I won’t give away the whole thing, but my favorite moment is when one woman says “we want to have kids and we have a plan.”

Just in case anyone from Historie Ime, any of the other organizations, or any other Albania stops by, thought you might want to know that the word for “welcome” in Albanian is “Mirë se vini” and happy holidays is “Gezuar festat”. Any Albanian speaker is welcome to correct me!

 

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  1. Really appreciated your post and documentary video. While it’s difficult to tune in to the fear and ignorance that is so typical across the globe, it is also encouraging to see activism and community and support shining through the darkness.

    • I agree, it is really hard to see how the other half lives. That said, three things encourage me:

      1) it reminds me of what we have back home. Yes, there is a long way to go in terms of rights and visibility, but much of the outright violence is behind us. Not all, but much.

      2) things are changing so fast in so many places. Just look at where Julieta was in 2008 (translating mombian into Spanish so friends and family could see other lesbian families and their uniqueness) to know that Argentina is passing laws for LGBT equality and lesbian families are marching together. Julieta reference from: http://lesbianfamily.com/2007/08/29/the-bloggeras-lesbian-family-with-a-latin-twist/

      3) I am an optimist. I see the glass half full. I couldn’t do the work I did if I wasn’t.

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