With help and support from our project PRIDE LGBT in Albania, IREX Europe has been working closely with Aleanca LGBT, Pro LGBT and Streha Shelter, three organizations providing vital support to LGBT community members in Albania. Since early 2018, IREX Europe has been working with them to help reinforce and expand their support to the LGBT community, which, despite recent advances suffers from a strongly conservative public attitude and virtually no government provided support. Our partners provide a range of support from public outreach to create a more tolerant and welcoming society, direct psycho-social and counseling support, to providing a shelter for young in-need community members who’ve fled violence and intolerance in their homes.

Our partners have now published their joint annual report for 2018 which shows both their excellent work, but also the very significant remaining needs of the LGBT community in Albania.

During 2018, Aleanca has provided more than 384 psychological counseling sessions to members of the LGBTI community, including for the first time art therapy support and individual therapy sessions. They’ve also helped 17 young people develop their employment skills, and provided access for 14 people to healthcare services, and provided testing, information and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases for more than 50 people.

In addition, Aleanca has organized trainings and discussions at its community centre for LGBT members and has provided a safe space where they can meet, exchange and gain skills and access to services.

Aleanca also works on reporting abuses against LGBTI community members. In 2018 there was a decrease in the number of reported homophobic attacks, but Aleanca reports that this is due to a lack of trust in the authorities and cases not being investigated or prosecuted. Out of the 421 cases documented by Aleanca, only 3 were reported to the police and 2 to the Commissioner against Discrimination. None have been prosecuted so far, and there is concern that reported cases are but a fraction of the real number of cases of abuse against the LGBT community.

The Streha shelter in Tirana was the first shelter in the Balkans and addresses one of the biggest challenges faced by young LGBT community members: rejection from family, peers and society as a whole. Many young LGBT people suffer violence and abuse and often end up living in the street, unemployed and vulnerable. To help these young people, the shelter has provided safe accommodation, meals, healthcare, psychosocial support and other services for 15 young people, helping them improve their life skills and preparing them for a safe reintegration into the community. Streha has also remotely supported 25 young people – providing direct financial and counseling support – outside of Tirana and has continued to monitor 62 people after they left the shelter.

Pro LGBT meanwhile has conducted a study on hate speech in the online media in Albania. The findings showed that discrimination is still very present in the media, especially in art, news, and culture sections, but also in policy, governance and legal ones. Pro LGBT has also published an online questionnaire which aims to measure the level of violence and discrimination that the LGBTI community faces, as well as gauge the level of information that LGBT community members have about protection of their rights and their current needs.

For more information please see the Annual Report 2018.