POLL: Albania Named Most Homophobic Country In Europe

albania-map1Despite harrowing reports from Poland, Russia and Latvia, Albania snatched the title of the most homophobic country in Europe, according to a new survey. Polling from the European Social Survey found that 53%of Albanians say “gays and lesbians should not be free to live life as they wish.”

The poll, which covered a variety of social issues, was given to citizens of 30 countries, including 1,200 Albanians.

The results are particularly puzzling considering Albania passed anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT citizens in 2010, and Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced his support for same-sex marriage in 2009, but legislation never materialized.

“It’s part of a mentality that does not see us as members of the community, and often perceives [being gay] as a phenomenon imported from developed countries and that there is no such thing as homosexual in Albania,” said Albanian activist Xheni Karaj. “People should understand that we have been, are, and will countinue to be Albanians that are homosexual.”

Last year, Deputy Defense Minister Ekrem Spahiu said marchers in the country’s first gay Pride march “should be beaten with billy clubs.”

Many countries in the Western Balkans—such as Macedonia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Serbia (where officials have repeatedly canceled Pride events because of the threat of violence)—weren’t included in the survey, according to Gay Star News.

Sweden, which was ranked the most gay-friendly country by Spartacus, topped this survey as well: Only 3% of those surveyed said gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to live openly.