Τρίτη 23 Απριλίου 2013

Tirana Pride 21 /9/ 2013 Albanian right-wing PM fully supports LGBT. Berisha, first PM officially to meet representatives


Albanian Prime Minister, Dr. Sali Berisha from the right-wing Democratic Party, welcomed today two LGBT activists, Xheni Karaj and Kristi Pinderi. He is the first Albanian PM to do so, after being the first Albanian politician to have declared himself in favor of same sex marriage, almost 4 years ago, after the elections of 2009.

Berisha, who is now seeking a third mandate as Prime Minister, expressed his full support for the LGBT movement in Albania and appreciated the activists for having given a voice to their cause. “I have carefully followed all your actions and I think that you have, so far, responded in a very good way whenever that has been necessary,” he said, adding that “it is important to believe in the cause you represent. […] To tell you the truth, [in the beginning] I have felt sorry when the debate about LGBT issues was going on and no one from the community was able to go publicly and defend the cause. So, I really appreciate that you both have appeared on television and have brought the LGBT issues to public attention,” said Berisha.

 He also condemned a previous declaration of his Vice-Minister of Defense Ekrem Spahiu, namely that “What remains to be done is to beat them up with a stick. If you don't understand this, I can explain it: to beat them with a rubber stick.” Berisha said in response: “This kind of declaration is unacceptable not only for a vice minister but for everyone.” He also added that every politician in this country should have a public stance on LGBT issues and should face them without fear or complexes.

 The two activists asked the Prime Minister about the recently proposed amendments of the penal code, amendments that are still in the process of approval in parliament . The amendments would include the criminalization of offending and intentional harassment towards LGBT people through digital technology. Berisha stated that he is carefully following the procedures and discussions for these amendments and he added that he is fully supporting them.

 Karaj and Pinderi stressed the need to include civil society in proposing and discussing the staff members and heads of the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner institution. They emphasized that Aleanca LGBT and Pro LGBT are unsatisfied with the unsatisfactory job done up to now by this institution. It was Berisha’s conviction that the anti-discrimination law of Albania, a very progressive one, should be considered as a chance. He said that the government is willing to enforce it without conditions. “We should look forward in the future.”

Kristi Pinderi and Xheni Karaj also explained to the Prime Minister that four years ago when he had made the statement in favor of same sex marriage they didn’t yet know each other but met on the occasion of the press release. They asked Berisha if he still stands in favor of same sex marriages, or at least in favor of civil unions for same sex couples. He responded that he had recently seen on television a gay couple sharing their love story and he added: "I don’t see any wrongdoing if they want to live with each other. […] But don’t forget”, added Berisha, “that the job to be done for breaking the ice in society is a job that will for sure need its own time. But what is important is that you are on the right way.”

He suggested not to have a confrontational attitude whenever homophobic statements are made. The activists replied by stating that it's time for the LGBT movement to raise its activism to a more political level. “We want now to communicate with the main political actors in the country in order to solve our problems,” Karaj and Pinderi confirmed.

 The Prime Minister guaranteed them that the government will fully support the rights of assembly of the LGBT community, having in mind the Tirana Pride 2013 announced by the three LGBT organizations to be held during September this year and the public events in the framework of IDAHO, on May 17.

6 June 2013 – PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania has noticed with particular concern the tendency in recent weeks of several politicians and officials who are using discriminatory and negative remarks for the LGBT community or for issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the name of narrow and momentary electoral interests.
Almost daily, different politicians are quoted in the media as they offend their fellow politicians and colleagues, during meetings with women, youth and the elderly and accuse them of supporting homosexuality and amorality. Some evoke in a ridiculous way issues of a divine, philosophical or emotional nature proclaiming themselves as protectors of the “traditional” family and the union between a man and a woman. Others display these as part of their electoral programs describing the war they will make against gay marriage or abortion. In the media, along many issues they incite fear and panic by comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, zoophiles and other disorders. Ridiculously and unconvincingly they partake in debates as if they were undisputed professors of sexology, sexuality, sociology, human sciences, theology, the divine, economy, politics, physics etc and in the tenth of a second have the ability to convince you that they have a high authority in everything they talk about.
Meanwhile, these are the same politicians who have signed the law for protection from discrimination or the recent amendments to the Criminal Code on hate crime and hate speech. These are the same politicians, whose bosses meet with LGBT activists take pictures with them smiling and hugging. They are the same politicians who know little or nothing of what happens to marginalized groups in Albania, of the people’s problems who along poverty, stress and debt are also victims of discrimination and exclusion for being women, children, minors, Roma, Egyptian, Greek, gay, lesbian, transgender, disabled etc.

 These people, are hard to be noticed by our politicians from their dark windowed cars, while their shoes step on mud only once every four years when they have to go and ask for our vote. Even then, they have the courage not only to catapult from one lie to another, but also to discriminate against the same marginalized groups, thus diverting attention from the real issues such as corruption, destroyed hospitals and classrooms, unemployment and lack of public services and instead to worry about what homosexuals do in bed or of the reasons why a young girl should not abort.
Thus, these politicians, in the luxury of downtown Tirana, show their “European” and progressive face as they meet with EU, OSCE and CoE officials and the conservative one devoted to “values” and “tradition” in meetings with the people, in their provinces, were problems are countless, and LGBT issues are not seen as a priority and are usually provided to them through the media or LGBT organizations and not by education and local institutions whose duty is to educate and inform citizens on human rights, minority and sexuality issues.
The same politicians ignore the deep crisis which has engulfed the Albanian family, caused by the same disturbing heteronormative, male-controlled social structure, which brings about violence and discrimination, victims of which are young and elderly women, children, teenagers and the marginalized people of society. In fact they deal only with that small part of society, the LGBT, who still have a weak voice to speak for themselves. They portray LGBT people as devil-like non-human creatures who are here to invade and destroy “the harmony of the traditional family”. This pathetic preaching comes from the same politicians who are usually on the covers of newspapers and magazines as they accuse each-other of corruption or are involved in some scandal for theft or adultery.

Politics is there to serve citizens and not narrow interests of small groups of people, in a democratic forum such as the Parliament. It cannot include some people and exclude others. This is discrimination! Human rights are universal, undeniable and unchangeable! Politicians, those who consider themselves to be the elite of society, those who are supposed to have given up businesses, actions, million-euro contracts and have sworn to serve the public interest, cannot go in front of the public with divine, philosophical and emotional rhetoric which makes them look racist and homophobic, typical for the 50s and 60s of the past century. Instead they need to sit down with the people on an equal footing, get to know them closely for what they are and not for what they think people ought to be. 
Every politician has the duty to respect the people who are voting for him/her be them gay, lesbian, women or men, elderly or youth! They have the obligation to respect the dignity of every citizen, to respect the laws that they pass and to give end to the 23 year old hypocrisy which ask for Europe but not for European values. 

PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro Albania calls on the Albanian public opinion, to evaluate with care and attention any comment and declaration of Albanian politicians with a critical outlook and to judge their performance based on their own interest as free individuals with undeniable rights. Albanian citizens should say stop to ignorance and to vote based on the universal values of dignity, diversity and solidarity. Albanian citizens must say no to homophobia, misogyny, racism and discrimination!
Politicians change your clown costumes and wear the costume of respect for the voters and the citizens.

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