Albanian Minister calls for homophobic violence, admonished by Prime Minister

Albania’s Deputy Defense Minister recently called to homophobic violence against Albanian citizens planning to organise the country’s first LGBT pride march in spring. He was swiftly rebuked by the Prime Minister.

Albania flagOn 24th March Mr Ekrem Spahiu, Deputy Defense Minister, told the press: “My only commentary on this gay parade is that they should be beaten with batons”. The party he heads, the Legality Movement Party, supported him by stating that homosexuality was a “vice, misfortune and a curse”.

These reactions came after organisations working for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people announced they would hold the first pride march on 17th May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

The Prime Minister, Mr Sali Berisha, later told the Parliament Mr Spahiu’s remarks were “unacceptable”. He further rebuked the Deputy Minister’s remarks, saying that Albania and its capital were a place of tolerance and diversity.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, reacted: “Integrating Albania into the European project is very dear to us in the European Parliament, but this does come with conditions. One of them is that, quite simply, ministers don’t call for violence against any minority, be it women, LGBT people, ethnic or linguistic minorities, or anyone for that matter. The Prime Minister’s rebuttal is very welcome indeed.”

Sirpa Pietikäinen MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “As a member of the Council of Europe, Albania has agreed to the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This entails protecting LGBT people from violence, not having a government calling for it. We are convinced Mr Spahiu’s remarks are isolated, and do not reflect the thinking of all Albanians.”

The European Parliament has yet to adopt its annual report on Albania’s progress towards EU accession.