Ekrem Spahiu (seen right), who’s also the Balkan nation’s deputy defense minister, responded yesterday to the announcement by LGBT activists that they would hold the country’s first ever gay pride march on May 17.
“My only commentary on this gay parade is that they should be beaten with billy clubs,” uttered Spahiu.
Albanian gay rights advocates were quick to react to Spahiu’s fighting words.
“This is a call to violence,” said Kristi Pinderi, one of the country’s leading LGBT anti-discrimination activists. “We will ask through our lawyers that Spahiu be convicted, in accordance with Albanian law, to a prison sentence of up to five years.”
Though Albania passed a bill granting LGBT people anti-discrimination protections in 2010, homophobia is admittedly still rampant in the southeastern European country. Of the upcoming parade itself through the capital of Tirana, observers say it’s impossible to yet know how safe the marchers will be.
“We cannot predict whether there will be any reaction from the society or [whether it] will be smooth,” said Elsa Ballauri, an Albanian human rights activist.
In other aggressive anti-pride news from the Balkans this week, a Facebook group in Croatia — with the catchy title “Blood will flow in the streets of Split, there will be no gay parade” — drew international attention for advocating violence to stop the upcoming June 9 march in that country’s second largest city of Split.
Image via YouTube