International Capacity Building Seminar on hate speech takes place in Tirana

BABELNOR Network brings together 30 activists and experts from across Europe

Tirana – Activists from the network of youth LGBT organiations, BABELNOR gathered for three days in the capital of Tirana Albania for the international seminar “Free to express me – combating homophobic and transphobic hate speech”.

The three day seminar, 25-27 Septmber, which was hosted by PINK Embassy / LGBT Pro, as member of BABELNOR, brought together activists from the region of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Nordic Countries.

The welcoming ceremony of the Seminar was attended by the Albanian Ombudsman, Mr. Igli Totozani, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination Mrs Irma Baraku, representative of the Ministry of Welfare and Youth, Mrs. Enkelejda Lopari etc. They greeted the seminar and offered their support for the protection and advancement of LGBTI rights in Albania. Meanwhile, Mrs. Eleni Tsetsekou, Head of SOGI unit at the Council of Europe, invited the young activists to use all mechanisms offered at national and international level for the advancement of their rights and for combating hate speech.

The opening ceremony was also enriched by the premiering of the exhibition “Taste of Freedom”, a collection of photographs from different instances of demonstrations and protesting in Albania and some Balkan countries during the last 5 years. The exhibition was greeted by Mr. Yngve Enstroem, Head of Cooperation at the European Commission. The exhibition was supported by the EC in Tirana which will also make possible the opening of the same exhibition in some cities across Albania.

The seminar aims to increase capacities of participants in finding ways to counter-react to hateful language, which is used against LGBT and other social groups. Experts from the Council of Europe held trainings for a better recognition of hate speech and the evolution of legal and policy mechanisms that have been put in place.

One of the most interesting activities of the seminar was the preparation of a grafiti near a youth centre in Tirana. Meanwhile participants prepared a supporting poster, for the Belgrade pride, which was successfully held on September 28th and other awareness actions in the streets of Tirana.

Two other actions were agreed to take place in the coming two months.

Hate speech is a serious problem throughout Europe and a lot more remains to be done. Efforts of LGBT activists in their countries are many in order to counter-react them in social media, traditional media, streets, neighborhood, schools etc. The seminar aimed to find creative ways on combating the phenomenon of hate spech and negative perceptions for the LGBTI community. 

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