Albania IDAHO Report 2012

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Activists in Albania had to battle heavy rain and dodge explosives hurled at them by youths on their “Ride against Homophobia” along the main boulevard of the capital Tirana as part of the country’s IDAHO 2012 celebrations. It was the first event of its kind to be held in Albania.
“I don’t have words to explain how great I felt during those 20 minutes of biking along the main boulevard. That boulevard – that great and long boulevard – was only for us. In those 20 minutes, we did what Albania has failed to do within these past 20 years,” said one of the cyclists.
The ride was followed by a visit to Vlora, where activists held an open forum with students, supported by the Italian Consulate in Vlora. A photographic exhibition entitled “Kukafshehti” [Hide and Seek] on LGBT Life in Albania was also held at Tirana Express gallery. It was the first exhibition to address the gay community as an integral part of Albanian society and reflected on various aspects of LGBT life in Albania, from relationships between gay couples to the hardships of life faced by many transgender people. The exhibition also included videos on LGBT activism in the past three years, a short movie on LGBTs by students of the Academy of Arts, and an awareness-raising video on LGBT rights.
A “Rock against Homophobia” concert was held at the gallery to coincide with the launch of the photographic exhibition and featured several young Albanian rock bands who support LGBT rights and some of the Albania’s best DJs.
Activists marked the Day itself with a landmark “Festival of Diversity” in Tirana as a way to advocate against homophobia and transphobia. It was the first time such a public gathering was be held in an open space in Albania.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Henk G.C. van den Dool spoke at the event, together with Albanian government representatives, the Ombudsman and the Commissioner for Anti-Discrimination, other diplomats and civil society human rights activists. Other events include held include presentations on LGBT rights at public and private universities and a series of public awareness-raising activities, including the distribution of leaflets and posters in Tirana in support of LGBT rights and the release of balloons bearing a love message by members of the LGBT community.
A 30-second TV spot in support of LGBT rights featuring Albanian public figures (activists, artists, journalists) was also produced and broadcast on the main TV stations.


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