Training of Police officers on LGBTI issues
Dennis, 21 years old, did not have an easy life with his family in a city in the south of Albania. One afternoon, his father took a kitchen knife and followed him around the home, threatening him because he couldn’t stand anymore his son’s sexual orientation. Denis managed to get refuge in the bathroom and waited there in panic for the help of his older brother. His brother housed him in a friend’s house that night and in the morning he accompanied him to Tirana.
On the first Monday of January 2015, Denis arrived in the LGBTI shelter in Tirana only with what he was wearing.
Such stories of extreme violence in families, violence which in most of the cases are not reported, served to LGBTI activists to illustrate their first training that they had with the elite police squad “Eagle” in Tirana, in the framework of a project that the organization “ProLGBT” developed with the help of Swedish Support for the State Police and of the government of Sweden.
15 policewomen and policemen from the “Eagle” squad had the possibility to debate and to acquire more information regarding the LGBTI community by Mrs. Xheni Karaj (Alliance Against Discrimination), by Mrs. Martha Bacile Findlay (ICITAP), by Mr. Kristi Pinderi (ProLGBT) and by Mr. Michael Kane (British Embassy and Spectrum).
The “Eagle” squad were introduced not only with the proper terminology regarding the LGBTI community and with the legislation that protects human rights, but they had the opportunity to work in small working to better understand the problems which LGBTI community face today in Albania.
The most flagrant violence against LGBTI occurs in … family!
Karaj and Pinderi explained that the biggest challenge is to address the domestic violence.
“The violence against LGBTI is unreported because unfortunately, the most part of it is exercised directly by the family members. The family is presumed to be the most safe, and yet it can be the most violent place for many of the members of our community, “said Pinderi which together with Karaj and Mrs. Vjollca Mecaj of the Albanian Helsinki Committee have just published a manual for police on LGBTI issues, supported by the Small Projects program of Swedish Support for the State Police.
Karaj focused on the abusers profile based on concrete cases, which two LGBTI organizations (ProLGBT and Alliance) have documented during their work.
“It is very important to note that,” she said, “we have had very good cooperation, particularly after the opening of shelter ‘STREHA’ with the State police”.
Since December when it was officially opened “STREHA”, the shelter for LGBTI persons has welcomed at least 7 cases of extreme physical and psychological domestic violence. The most flagrant case that is presented in the shelter is the case of a gay teenager who was detained in the house of his family members and who wanted to “cure” him, until local police intervened.
“How many years did it take to Britain?” asked the police officers…
Mr. Michael Kane, a British diplomat and representative of Spectrum in the UK Embassy in Tirana shared with the “Eagles” the British experience.
“How many years did it take to Britain to achieve its standards for the respect of the rights of LGBT persons?” was one of the questions that police officers asked Mr. Kane. He emphasized that since the beginning of the 90s, when the Movement for the rights of LGBTI had the main impetus; it took at least 10 years to achieve the first results.
Some of the Albanian effectives were sincere when they said that until sometime ago the debate around LGBTI in Albania was impressive but now thanks to the information they received they have the possibility to treat these issues with professionalism.
The personal history of the American officer
Mrs. Martha Bacile Findlay, Senior Adviser of the State Police in the framework of ICITAP program, encouraged the participants in this activity with a personal history of hers while she was working as a Police officer.
She shared with the participants the case of the murder of a member of her family because of his sexual orientation and also emphasized how much importance has for justice when “Police is fair and professional in her job.”
ProLGBT has trained so far the police officers of 6 police stations of Tirana on LGBTI issues in collaboration with the Alliance against discrimination and the support of the Swedish Government.
The training of “Eagle” considered as the elite Police team was part of a program titled “Trust and Security”, in the framework of which the LGBT activists have produced a TV spot where they appeal to their community not to consider the political asylum as a solution to their problems, but to work with the institutions, that each case of discrimination or violence to be addressed and not to remain unreported.