Albania: Deputy Defence Minister accused of homophobic discrimination

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The Albanian Deputy Defence Minister Ekrem Spahia, and a Socialist Party official Artan Lame, have both come under heavy criticism for publicly using discriminatory language against the LGBT community.

Irma Baraku, a Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, accused the Deputy Defence Minister of using undignified language during a television debate on 21 March.

She said the minister’s speech “violates the right for security and protection from violence of people, because of their sexual orientation.”

Artan Lame was asked to issue an apology for using inappropriate language in an article published in the Tirana daily Shqip, on 23 March.

Lame described homosexuality as a deviation, when writing an article which centred around the case of a man, who was accused of kidnapping a ten-year-old boy.

Baraku has urged the pair to issue public apologies, in compliance with Albania’s anti-discrimination laws.

Spahia, who is the head of the conservative Legality Party, is well known in Albania for his opposition to gay rights, and in 2012, he responded to plans for a gay pride parade in Tirana, saying that the “organisers should be beaten with clubs.”

Both having violated Albania’s anti-discriminiation law, the Balkan Insight reports that they have 15 days to issue a public apology, or face fines.

On May 2, the Albanian Parliament made a landmark ruling to strengthen LGBT protections from hate crime and hate speech.

Last month, the results of the European Social Survey (ESS), suggested that Albania is the most homophobic society of the countries surveyed. According to the ESS, 53% of Albanians said they believed that “gays and lesbians should not be free to live life as they wish,”