Anti-Bias Law Enacted in Albania

Albanian lawmakers have approved an anti-discrimination bill that will protect Albanians from all forms of discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Article 1 of the bill defines equality, and includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the reasons equality should not be infringed upon. Article 3 defines discrimination, incorporating every ground mentioned in article 1. The bill was approved on February 4, 2010. For over a year, Human Rights Watch has worked to support changes in Albanian law that would offer anti-discrimination protections in keeping with international standards. In February 2009, Human Rights Watch organized a roundtable discussion in Tirana with 10 Albanian human rights organizations to talk about the issue.

The groups pointed to high levels of homophobia in Albanian society and a dire lack of legal protections. They concluded that a broad anti-discrimination law that would expressly protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Albanians against unequal treatment should be a top priority for government action.

“Albania’s government has shown leadership in the fight for equality,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director in the LGBT program of Human Rights Watch. “The bill’s inclusive provisions, if carried out properly, will help build an open society where all can live freely.”

Human Rights Watch has urged Albanian authorities to ensure that the new Office of the Commissioner for the Protection of Equality and the Ministry of Labor have the staff and expertise needed to lead the fight against discrimination.

“This law is an important promise – but it is just the beginning,” Dittrich said. “Now the government needs to see that its provisions are realized and enforced.”

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