Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for February, 2010

Albania rejects Marriage Equality

Timothy Kincaid

February 5th, 2010

Last July we reported that Albania, a secular Muslim Balkan nation, was considering legalizing same-sex marriage. The Prime Minister announced his party will propose a law making the change.

Sadly, this did not come to be. However, a law was passed which outlawed discrimination. (PinkNews)

A gay rights law passed in Albania yesterday will outlaw homophobic discrimination but will not allow same-sex marriage.

The law gives protection to citizens against discrimination on grounds of gender, race, colour, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

This change, though disappointing, was welcomed. (Reuters)

‘This law is not simply a fulfilment of requirements that Albania has undertaken for European Union integration and visa liberalisation. Above all, it is a victory for democracy and for human rights for all Albanians,’ the LGBT community said. The group hoped that Berisha would eventually keep his promise to legalise same-sex marriage.

Altin Azizaj, who runs the Children Rights Centre and had fought with parliamentarians over the role of a commissioner to monitor the law, said public and, most importantly, private institutions were now bound to respect human rights.

And Number Eight May Be… Albania?

Timothy Kincaid

July 30th, 2009

Back in May when Sweden became the seventh nation to recognize same-sex marriages, had we conducted a pool as to what nation would be next, very few of you would have bet on Albania. In fact, I imagine that very few of you could have found Albania on a map.

Albania is a Balkan nation tucked between Greece and Montenegro. It has a relatively conservative culture and homosexuality is not well tolerated by the people. In fact, none of its direct neighbors offer any recognition of same-sex relationships.

But Albania wants to join the European Union. And they know that passing marriage equality would present a modern progressive image to the rest of the continent. So Prime Minister Sali Berisha took a surprising step by announcing that the country would move in that direction. (BBC)

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha has announced his party will propose a law legalising same-sex marriage.

It is an unexpected move in a country that is still one of the most conservative in the Europe and where homosexuality was illegal until 1995.

Mr Berisha acknowledged the proposed law might provoke debate but maintained that discrimination in modern Albania had to end.

This bill, which will be voted on in the fall, has the expected opposition of Catholic and Muslim leaders. But while Albania is primarily Muslim, this is not a strongly religious nation. While most residents still associate themselves with Christianity or Islam, over 70% of residents do not attend services and consider themselves to be non-religious. Practicing religion was banned during the 1944-1990 Communist regime.

I know too little of Albanian politics to make any predictions at this time. Although Berisha and his right-wing Democrat Party hold 74 of 140 seats and the bill is reportedly popular among the legislators, I am not sure whether they vote in a block or whether there may be defectors. Additionally, I’ve not heard whether the opposition Socialist Party is putting up a strong objection to the bill.

But should Albania become the eighth nation to enact marriage equality, this may well serve to shame some more progressive nations that pride themselves on their culture and civility.