International partners call for an end to discrimination of LGBT Communities

17 May 2013

image(from right to left) Mr. Patrik Svensson, Chargé d´Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Tirana; Ms. Aferdita Zere, Deputy Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities; Ms. Zineb -Toumi Benjelloun, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Albania; Mr. Martin de la Beij, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana.

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Twenty-one years ago on this day homosexuality was removed from the International Classification of Diseases of the World Health Organization (WHO). This victory was a historic step towards recognizing freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as fundamental basic human rights.

Today representatives of the Government of Albania, United Nations, Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, Embassy of Sweden and civil society organizations appealed to the Albanian public to respect the rights of LGBT community in Albania and all over the world.

For generations, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in all countries of the world have been subjected to terrible violence on account of their sexual orientation and gender identity. They have been treated with contempt, derision and discrimination. They are discriminated against in the labor market, in schools and in healthcare, and are even abused and disowned by their own families. They have been made to feel anything but free and equal. Such inequalities impede development progress for society as a whole.

The Albanian Government has developed a Plan of Action to address LGBT issues. The People’s Advocate and the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination also handle cases of discrimination against LGBT persons. United Nations Agencies in Albania have been supporting the government and oversight institutions to improve their capacities in addressing discrimination against individuals of this group. Furthermore, UN’s assistance has gone towards supporting authorities and civil society to raise public awareness on human rights violations, with a view to promote respect, tolerance and diversity as values of society and humanity.

The Deputy Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Mrs. Aferdita Zere present at the press conference said: ”Albanian Government is very committed to respect human rights and this commitment expresses itself not only in the approval of UN and Council Europe instruments and drafting and approval of the country’s legislation in accordance with these key documents, but also in undertaking concrete steps in strengthening human rights and effective implementation of antidiscrimination policies.

Ms. Zineb -Toumi Benjelloun, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Albania said:” United Nations Agencies in Albania have been supporting the government and public oversight institutions to improve their capacities in addressing discrimination against individuals of this group. Furthermore, the UN’s assistance has gone towards supporting authorities and civil society to raise public awareness on human rights violations, with a view to promote respect, tolerance and diversity as values of society and humanity. “

Mr. Martin de la Beij, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Tirana amongst other highlighted: "In Albania like in many countries, the rights and safety of homosexuals and transgender people are a matter of concern. Homosexuals and transgender people encounter a lot of violence in Europe and elsewhere. Dutch Embassy will provide moral and financial support to local LGBT organizations and will urge their European colleagues to do the same”.

Mr. Patrik Svensson, Chargé d´Affaires of the Swedish Embassy in Tirana, present at the event said:” During recent years we have seen positive development in Albania when it comes to the legislative and institutional framework on anti discriminations and commitment of Albanian institutions responsible for human rights. There are strategies in place promoting LGBT rights and targeting the discrimination against LGBT persons. Civil society organizations play a crucial role behind many initiatives.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlights three areas of particular concern that require immediate attention. The first relates to violent, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, which take place with alarming regularity in all regions of the world. These range from aggressive, sustained psychological bullying through to physical assault, torture, kidnapping and even murder.

A second area of concern relates to the criminalization of homosexuality. It is 21 years since the UN Human Rights Committee first established that criminalizing consensual, same-sex relationships violates people’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination.

In that time, more than 30 States have taken steps to remove homosexuality-related offences from their legal systems. But in at least 76 countries, people continue to be punished under criminal law just because their partner is someone of the same sex. Penalties range from short-term to life imprisonment, sometimes with hard labor. In at least five countries, national law provides for the death penalty to punish consensual, adult same-sex conduct.

The third area of concern is the prevalence of discriminatory practices against LGBT individuals, and a corresponding lack of legal protection by national laws. This lack of effective protection makes it possible for employers to fire their workers, school administrators to expel students, healthcare workers to deny essential services to patients, and parents to disown their own children -- or force them into marriage, or into psychiatric institutions – in each case simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon said:” The fight against homophobia is a core part of the broader battle for human rights for all. Its sits alongside the long-standing work of the United Nations to eliminate racism and promote gender equality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world that is free and equal, and we will only honor that promise if everyone – without exception – enjoys the protection they deserve. We know what needs to be done. Draconian laws used to criminalize and punish LGBT people must be replaced by new laws that are in harmony with universal human rights conventions and protect everyone from discrimination on grounds of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Public education is also essential to challenge negative stereotypes and promote greater understanding”.

Contact Information

 

Nora Kushti,
UNDP Communications Manager
E-mail: nora.kushti@undp.org