Albania may shortly legalise gay marriage: church leaders respond with predictable negativity.
From SETimes 12.08.09:
Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced recently that the government supports an amendment that would recognise same-sex marriage. If it passes, Albania will be the first country in the region to do so.
Homosexuality is taboo in Albania — and was not decriminalised until 1995. Members of the local gay community mask their identity, living in fear due to the stigma attached to their sexual orientation and threats to their safety.
By making same-sex marriage one of the new government’s legislative initiatives, Berisha hopes to change that.
“We aim to put legal base on this right that is already legitimised in European countries,” said Berisha at an intergovernmental European Integration meeting late last month.
“Regardless of the debates that may arise, discrimination is unacceptable,” he said.
The gay community is excited by the government’s stand.
“This is not only a step to be taken for [the purpose] of European integration, but primarily for the emancipation of the Albanian society,” said the Tirana-based Alliance Against Discrimination of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders.
“We are proud that our country is joining so many others in embracing equality and rejecting discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people.”
However, many in Albania, especially the religious sector, staunchly oppose the amendment, and believe marriage is a union solely between a man and a woman.
“This kind of law implies a severe violation of norms and principals of human morals, and would cause a dangerous deviation, especially among the young,” said Sajmir Rusheku, deputy chairman of the Albanian Muslim community.
“Unfortunately, today these laws are considered progress, but in fact that is not true. Furthermore, it is the duty of every government to protect marriage,” said Monsignor Gjergj Frendo of the Albanian Catholic Church.
Bishop Andon Merdani of the Albanian Orthodox Church says “We consider these kinds of marriages a problem for society.”
A total of 84 votes are needed to change the existing Family Code. Right now, Berisha’s Democratic Party does not have enough to pass the amendment.
But the Alliance Against Discrimination of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders is hopeful.
“We look forward to the support of all parties and to the passage of the non-discrimination law soon after the next session of parliament begins,” the group said in a statement.