Albania’s Prime Minister on Monday rebuked a Cabinet member for recent comments the lawmaker made that gay citizens hoping to hold their first ever Pride celebration in the country “should be beaten with a rubber stick.”
Prime Minister Sali Berisha called the remarks by Deputy Defense Minister Ekrem Spahiu “unacceptable.”
Albanian gay rights groups are planning to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17 in the capital, Tirana. The groups have demanded Spahiu that be prosecuted under anti-discrimination laws but the small monarchist party that Spahiu heads backed him, issuing a statement describing homosexuality as a “vice, misfortune and a curse.”
On March 22, 2012, Spahiu told the Albanian newspaper Gazeta Shqiptarein, in response to a question about a pride parade on the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, that he opposed the plans, saying:
“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.”
Albania’s Ombudsman, Igli Totzani, condemned the remarks, saying they contradicted “the spirit of tolerance, coexistence and diversity as the traditional values ofAlbanian society,” and that they “incite violence and hatred, constituting also a criminal act.”
Similarly, international human rights groups hit out at Minister Spahiu’s remarks, with the group Human Rights Watch saying:
“I am shocked that a high ranking government official is calling for violence against peaceful LGBT demonstrators,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Government officials should be supporting plans to hold a Gay Pride parade, not making threats against the participants.”
Forty-eight Albanian non-governmental organizations also condemned Spahiu’s comments, saying that protecting gay rights is “a fundamental condition in the road of European Union integration.”
The Albanian government has made broad and significant steps toward institutionalizing tolerance for LGBT rights. These include passing an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law, and on March 31, 2010, having agreed to the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe when it adopted nondiscrimination provisions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.