Many Health Insurance in the Republic of Albania”, the

 

Many
international documents express the concern that the Albanian governments in
the last twenty years have done big changes for the protection of human rights,
however the enforcement of legal framework and mechanisms still remain
important issues.

The European Commission’s Albania
2016 progress report, 9 November 2016, noted that:

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“In
June 2014, the European Council granted Albania candidate status. The Stabilization
and Association Agreement (SAA) has been in force since April 2009 and Albania
has implemented smoothly its obligations. Regular political and economic
dialogue between the EU and Albania has continued through the relevant structures
under the SAA. The government engaged in EU-related reforms and continued to
make progress in meeting the objectives set out in the five key priorities for
the opening of accession negotiations.”1

The 2017 ILGA-Europe Annual Review
of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex
People in Europe, period from January to December 2016 stated that: “Albania is
a prime example of the difference between laws on paper and realities experienced
by LGBTI people in their daily lives. Further legislative progress was made in
2016, with adoption of an action plan to promote and protect the human rights
of LGBTI people, adding to an already comprehensive legal package protecting
the human rights of LGBTI people. However, no efforts were made to address
pervasive homophobic attitudes in society. As a candidate country, Albania is
annually assessed by the European Commission on its progress towards joining
the European Union.”2

The overall legal framework consists
of the Albanian Constitution, the Family Code, the Labor Code, the Law No.
10221 dated 4 February 2010 “On Protection from Discrimination”, the Law No.
8876 dated 04 April 2002 “On Reproductive Health”, as amended, the Law No. 8432
dated 14 December 1998 “On Asylum in the Republic of Albania”, the Law No.
7952, dated 21 June 1995, “On the pre-university education system”, the Law
7870, dated 13 October 1994 “On Health Insurance in the Republic of Albania”, the
Law No. 9695, dated 19 March 2007 “On adoption procedures and the Albanian
Committee on Adoption”, the Decision of Parliament No. 33 dated 22 April 2010
“On Election of Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination, the
Decision of Parliament No. 34 dated 20 May 2010 “On Approval of Structure, Organics
and Categorization of Work Positions of the Office for Protection Against
Discrimination”.

 

As for the International
agreements, declarations and resolutions, Albania has signed the UN Declaration
on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in 2008. It has signed and ratified
Protocol 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms for a General Prohibition of Discrimination. Albania has also
ratified Protocol 12 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. While this Protocol does not mention LGBTI
rights or SOGI-based discrimination specifically, the Court has ruled they are
incurred directly.

Albania was among one of the
co-signatories of the join-statement of the Ministers of the region at the 2015
IDAHOT Forum in Montenegro.

 

Even though, the Albanian Constitution does not
prohibit same-sex marriage (Article 53 states that “everybody has the right to
get married and have children3), the
Albanian Family Code prohibits same-sex marriage (Article 7 states that
“marriage is contracted between a man and a woman who have reached the age of
18 years”4). The European
Commission’s 2016 report on Albania (covering the period October 2015 to
September 2016) found that amendments to the family code to introduce the
concept of cohabitation of same-sex couples should be adopted as soon as
possible. The People’s Advocate of Albania (the Ombudsman), Mr. Igli Totozani,
noted in May 2016 on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
(IDAHOT) that: ‘There is also no legal framework and the right not provided to
enable coexistence, civil partnership or same sex marriages.’

In
addition, same-sex partners cannot jointly adopt a child, as Article 242 of the
Family Code provides that a minor cannot be adopted by more than one person,
unless they are spouses, meaning husband and wife5. Lesbians or gays can
therefore adopt a child only as individuals, not as couples. Fertility
treatment for lesbian women is not regulated by the relevant Albanian law. Law
No. 8876, dated 04 April 2002 “On Reproductive Health” (“Law 8876”), regulates
the recognition and admission of the reproductive rights of any individual and
consorts as well as guarantees and provides for the offering of the respective
services for exercising the reproductive rights without distinction of gender
or other demographic category. However, Law 8876 does not provide whether a
lesbian woman is entitled or not to a fertility treatment.

According
to the LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey (ERA): “LGBT
organizations in the country have constantly asked the Albanian governments to
recognize same-sex couples and their right to enter into civil unions. The
request has been to amend articles 163 and 164 of the Family Code to allow for
gender neutral cohabitation and to recognize the rights of same-sex couples in
related to property, inheritance and health/social insurance. Until now the Albanian
government has failed to approve this request and take it to Parliament.”6

 Prime Minister Sali Berisha (2005-2013) was
the first to acknowledge the principles of equality and non-discrimination and
said he wanted to improve the rights of Albanian LGBT people, including
revising the Family Code. In July 2009 he organized a press conference where he
promised to introduce marriage equality legislation. This was unexpected for Albania,
but as it turned out, nothing happened, despite the promise.

The
situation of LGBT people remains taboo for the state institutions as well as
for the Albanian society. Many recommendations are sent over the years to state
institutions for this purpose, and the work of monitoring the implementation of
the legal framework in the country, with the purpose that LGBT persons should
enjoy equal rights with all other citizens.

 

 

 

 

1 European
Commission, Brussels, 9.11.2016 SWD (2016) 364 final Commission Staff Working
Document: Albania 2015 Report, Accompanying the document: Communication from
the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic
and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. 2016 Communication on EU
Enlargement Policy. 9 November 2016. Page 4. https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/pdf/key_documents/2016/20161109_report_albania.pdf
Date accessed: 22 December 2017

 

2 ILGA-Europe
Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans
and Intersex People in Europe, 2017 (period from January to December 2016)

https://www.ilga-europe.org/sites/default/files/2017/full_annual_review.pdf
Date accessed: 22 December 2017

3 Article
53 of the Constitution of the Republic of Albania.

4 Article
7, The Family Code of the Republic of Albania.

5 Begeja,
Ksanthipi. Family Law of P.S.R. of Albania, Tirana 1984, Chapter IV/page 93.

6 ERA
(LGBTI Equal Rights Association for Western Balkans and Turkey), Albania, 28
April 2016. http://www.lgbti-era.org/content/albania
Date accessed: 12 December 2017

 

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