The Covid-19 pandemic appears to have made life tougher for LGBTQ people in Albania
A report from ILGA – an organisation that advocates for LGBTQ equality – has found that discrimination against LGBTQ people has increased in Albania since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Like other Balkan countries aiming to become members of the European Union, Albania must demonstrate its readiness to protect human rights, and has passed laws against discrimination because of sexual orientation.
However, the systemic homophobia of a patriarchal society is still negatively impacting queer people – those who are open about their sexuality are often rejected by family and friends.
A survey by the Streha organisation, which offers shelter to LGBTQ people, found that 80% of respondents had considered leaving Albania.
Another study, by Abania’s Alenacea non-governmental organisation, found one in two LGBTQ people had experienced psychological violence and bullying, one in five had been sexually harassed and some had been raped. Only 7% reported the incidents to the authorities.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Albania?
Homosexuality in Albania has been decriminalised since 1995, with an equal age of consent in place since 2001.
While attitudes are changing, Albania is a socially conservative country, and homosexuality has been seen as something of a taboo subject.
While anti-discrimination protections have been introduced in recent years, there’s currently no legal recognition of same-sex couples. Prospects of marriage equality seem a long way off.
The recent move by Albania’s professional body of psychologists to ban conversion therapy is a step forward.