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Rights Group Hails Albania For Law Protecting Homosexuals

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha
NEW YORK (RFE/RL) -- A human rights watchdog has hailed the passing of an anti-bias law as "groundbreaking" for its inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a letter to Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha that it considers the new law "a significant step toward making Albania an open society where all people can live freely without fear of unequal treatment."

The legislation, which was approved by lawmakers on February 4, is designed to protect Albanians from all forms of discrimination. It includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the reasons equality should not be infringed upon.

Boris Dittrich, Human Rights Watch's advocacy director in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender program, praised the Albanian government for showing "leadership in the fight for equality."

The inclusion of the protection for sexual orientation follows more than a year of campaigning by Human Rights Watch to support changes that would bring Albania's antidiscrimination laws up to international standards.

Experts say that discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread throughout the Balkans.