Albanian LGBT activists are planning a Pride Parade in the capital city of Tirana on May 17. Naturally, many are up in arms, including Deputy Defence Minister and Chairman of the royalist party of Albania, Ekrem Spahiu, who is quoted by the French LGBT magazine Tetu as saying “My only comment (on the Pride): they must be beaten with truncheons.”*
A few fun facts about Albania: It’s a parliamentary democracy with a GDP of about $25 billion, landing it below the rank of such countries as Democratic Republic of the Congo and Trinidad and Tobago. It is struggling to update its roads and power plants, join the EU, and mitigate brain drain. It wants to attract tourists (it got a great endorsement from Lonely Planet in 2011) and foreign investment.
It would seem that even to a bigot, LGBT people would not count among Albania’s major problems. And indeed, the country has established some admirable protective legislation for its LGBT population, including anti-discrimination laws that exceed EU standards. Yet good policy does not erase bigotry, and every country has its inciters (and their sympathizers). Human Rights Watch has called out Spahiu on his remarks, and Tetu suggests that legal action may be taken.
* Translation Google’s.