Thursday, July 30, 2009

The first and the last country in everything

Albania! My country is widely described as “a majority Muslim country”, “the second poorest”, a country were still exists the ancient rude traditions of blood feud and sworn virgins, the last country in Eastern Europe that is still ruled by a former communist, as BBC put it.

Despite all “bad” things, Albania is as well (surprisingly) one of the first countries in Europe that gave women the right to vote and the right to divorce since 1920. Albania is also the first country in the world that acknowledged the Organization for the Liberalisation of Palestine as legitimate representative of Palestinians.

Now, it is not the first, but anyway, only the fourth country in Europe that wants to give a legal status for the same-sex marriages. And from whom?! From the Prime Minister Sali Berisha, a former communist that turned to champion the Albanian nationalism in early '90, declared himself an anti-communist and as sold fuel for Serbians during the Bosnian war. In 2005, returned to power with a liberal platform, but championed “fair wealth division” subsequently, the first in Europe to implement the flat tax on personal revenues. Now, he is going to champion gay rights and not only to fight against their discrimination in the Albanian proud heterosexual society, but wants to assign to them the right to get married.

This does not surprise me at all! The drastic changes in the political orientation of Mr. Berisha, are in fact the results of the lessons that we learned by Albanian long history. A country situated in a border zone between different cultures and empires, has learned by its sufferings how to cope with new realities.

In Albanian newspapers the news that the Prime Minister supported personally the gay marriage, was immediately justified as something needed for the country goal to integrate in the European Union, a goal that for the 99 per cent of Albanians that support it, means nothing more than free movement.

Ironically, some newspapers that support Mr. Berisha, assigned a second or a third place in their first page to that news. The newspapers that are not so friendly to Mr. Berisha or support the opposition, made the maximum effort to push on their headline the word “Berisha” and “homosexuality”. That was simple: the today government of Albania, made every effort to mock some of the opposition figures as “homosexually oriented”, something that in Albanians mind, means physical weakness and is still used to offend in the most harshest way someone. In Tirana, if you call someone “homosexual”, probably he will kill you!

So, Albania perhaps will approve the gay-marriages within this year. A friend of mine from Bosnia, (Muslim) rightfully said once that this fast change in altitude of Albanians, is perhaps a fact that we do not really believe in any kind of virtue. So, it is easy to change from communism to Islamic, liberal, green, or every other kind of ideology. But this does not change so much things. Although Albania approved women right to vote in 1920, in the last elections there has been 1500 registered cases of family voting, (usually the husband that controls for whom voted his wife). And although Albania championed Palestinian rights in 1980s, she was happy to sell fuel to the Serbian gangs who used that fuel for their killing machine in Bosnia.

So, I am sorry! I can't see Mr. Berisha's support for gay marriages as a symbol of Albanian openness. That is more a symbol of Albanian national pragmatism, or more exactly, a fact that the majority of Albanians does not believe in something.

1 comment:

Maria said...

Hi! What happened to they same sex marriage law? It was rejected?
I saw that on the news and I'm curious because never heard about it again.
I'm portuguese but I lived in Albania back in 1990.