ALBANIA- THE 28TH COUNTRY IN THE WORLD TO JOIN `FREE & EQUAL` CAMPAIGN TO PROMOTE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER RIGHTS

Thursday, 15 December, 2016

Tirane, 15 December 2016

For immediate release: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in partnership with United Nations Development Programme launched today the “Free and Equal” Campaign in partnership with LGBTI civil society activists. The Campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination and to mobilize people in Albania to stop the violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. LGBT people, like everyone else in the world are entitled to live their lives free from fear, violence, discrimination, and inequality. Albania is the 28th country in the World to join this global movement for equality and human rights. The Campaign conveys a key message:”Human rights are universal and we can change attitudes for the better”.
Over the next 2 months, the Free & Equal campaign will release a variety of multimedia content which call on all people to respect the rights of the LGBTI community, train journalist how to ethically and adequately reports issues related to LGBTI rights. The Campaign will also include open lectures with University Students to convey a key message: LGBTI rights are human rights.
The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Albania Brian Williams underlined:” Ending marginalization and exclusion of LGBTI people is a human rights priority – and a development imperative. Achieving the full respect of rights of LGBTI people is fundamental to the world`s achievement of the global 2030 Agenda. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only translate this principle into action if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity”.
Albania has marked progress in the protection of LGBTI rights. Albania has a comprehensive non-discrimination law that includes the protection of sexual orientation and gender identity; has further improved very important laws such as the Criminal Law and Administrative Procedural Code, the Law on the pre-university education, the Labor Code to mention a few. The shift of the burden of proof to the one accused of discrimination in the 2015 Labor Code amendments is a positive step forward which needs to be followed by further legislative improvements of Albanian legislation.
However challenges remain. LGBTI youth in Albania are rejected by their families, they experience disproportionate levels of suicide, homelessness and food insecurity, for example. Violence and discrimination are still resulting in too much exclusion in Albanian life. A recent research points out that 76% of LGBTI people state that they have been exposed to psychological abuse due to their gender identity and sexual orientation and 32 % of LGBTI people have been victimized by physical violence and perpetrators of such violence have been family members and people on the street. LGBTI employees are not protected as 78% of businesses interviewed in a recent research that they neither have a non-discriminatory policy in place nor mention LGBTI as ground not be discriminated against and 68% of these private companies do not have reporting mechanism in case discrimination happens.
UNDP Albania and other UN Agencies through several programmes are assisting Albania to address the challenges that still remain including through constitutional, legislative and policy changes, strengthening of national institutions, and education, training and other initiatives to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of all LGBTI people in the country.

For further information, please contact: Nora Kushti, Communication Specialist, UN/UNDP-Albania
nora.kushti@undp.org