Albania Passes Landmark LGBT Protection Laws

by Sergio N. Candido

South Florida Gay News

Wednesday May 8, 2013

Albania is amending its criminal code after two laws protecting the LGBT community against hate crimes were passed this past weekend.

On May 4, the country's parliament approved a law that puts hate crimes against sexual orientation and gender identity on par with offenses against gender, race, ethnicity, religious belief, and disability, the Gay Star News reports.

Albania also passed a law making the "dissemination of homophobic information" punishable with up to two years in prison.

"Providing to the public or distribution of deliberate materials containing racist, homophobic or xenophobic content, through the communication and information technology, is punishable by a fine or imprisonment up to two years," the law specifies.

The new advances in LGBT rights in the country, coupled with previous anti-discrimination laws, put somewhat into question the validity of a recent survey that ranked Albania as the most homophobic country in Europe.

Albanian gay rights activist Kristi Pinderi told GSN in late March the survey may not accurately reflect the country's attitude toward homosexuality because not enough people were surveyed.

"I believe participation is needed from everyone. That is the first step to knowing the [full] situation," he said.

Albanian ombudsman Igli Totozani said the new laws put the country in the forefront of the region in regard to gay rights.

"Albania is on the way to a more fair, equal and European society," he said "[The laws are a] valuable contribution to a greater protection of human dignity and a more open and European Albania."

GSN clarifies that over 30 Facebook pages associated with radical Islamic groups voiced their objection the new laws.

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