“81% of LGBTI Albanians think that their needs would be better represented by an LGBTI elected official.”
The LGBTQ Victory Institute and our Albanian partner, OMSA, recently published a research paper to better understand the best avenues to increase political participation of LGBTI people in Albania. This newly-published research provides insight into the position of the main political parties around equality, perception of the LGBTI people regarding politics, the voting behavior of LGBTI Albanians and recommendations to each stakeholder involved.
According to our research, the main political parties in the country – the SP (Socialist Party), the DP (Democratic Party) and the SMI (Socialist Movement for Integration) – walk a thin line between quietly supporting equality for LGBTI people while avoiding public expressions of support, for fear of losing votes. The reason not to be more vocal, as expressed by one party representative, is that “the Albanian society is still unwilling to accept the advancement of LGBTI community rights and any party that will publicly support these rights should take into account the potential electoral costs”.
These perceptions contradict Victory Institute’s findings in the region. According to a regional poll conducted in 2015 among the Albanian public in partnership with NDI, most Albanians would not vote for a party or candidate who supports equality for LGBTI people. However, the key issues for voters were unemployment, the economy and corruption. Neither LGBTI nor human rights were among the top ten priorities for voters. Therefore, political parties could publicly support equality for LGBTI people without a significant change or risk to their voter support.
Read the Report
Party officials interviewed indicated that any party member has space to grow within their structures and develop a political career, regardless of their identity and based only on their skills. Therefore, none of them believed it to be necessary for the parties to create specific LGBTI sections within the party structure. As one interviewee stated, “I do not see any difference between someone who is heterosexual or homosexual, it is everyone’s private choice”.
However, LGBTI Albanians do not seem to perceive the same opportunities and support from the 3 main political parties in the country. According to the research, around half of the LGBTI respondents that none of the major parties express adequate support equality for LGBTI people. As one activist said “We should be careful to get involved in political parties. Political parties will simply use us as an image to show themselves as open-minded and progressive. Meanwhile, on the other hand, we will not be able to change anything regarding the promotion of LGBTI rights”.
Nonetheless, LGBTI Albanians who took part in the research are providing the path for political parties to become more inclusive. As expressed in the survey, 81% of respondents felt that their needs would be better addressed by an LGBTI political candidate. For that reason, Victory Institute is proud to have trained LGBTI leaders from all over the Balkans and helped to organize four Civil Society Forums throughout the region, both activities working to promote the civic and political participation of LGBTI persons in the region.
Moreover, in collaboration with our local partners, we organized in 2015 the first regional Balkans Conference on political participation of LGBTI people in Belgrade, Serbia which gathered 130 participants from 17 different countries and elected officials from all over the region.
You can download the research publication in English and in Albanian. In addition, you can also download a regional report published by Victory Institute in 2017 title “LGBTI Political Participation in the Western Balkans” here.