On November 12 Anxhela was brutally attacked in the center of Tirana. Sitting on a bench near the Albanian Parliament, she was attacked by five men in their twenties, and suffered beatings until she lost consciousness. No one tried to help her, and when she eventually regained consciousness, she managed get to the Aleanca community center in downtown Tirana, where she got help with getting to the emergency room and to make a statement to the police.
– We urge the police to investigate this attack as a hate crime and ensure that the attackers are prosecuted accordingly, says Mina Skouen, Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
– We also ask that Albanian authorities take necessary measures to safeguard the trans community, including access to safe housing and shelter.
Homelessness increase vulnerability
According to NHCs partner organization Alliance against Discrimination LGBT, Anxhela is frequently attacked. She is a well-known figure and a target for transphobic groups. She also has no housing, which leaves her particularly vulnerable to these transphobic actions.
Anxhela was at the forefront of a public action which aimed at increasing lesbian visibility November 8, Tirana Dyke March, which was carried out in connection to the international LGBTI conference, Our Rights, Your Future 7 to 9 November.
– One of the topics that was discussed during the conference was the vulnerability of homeless trans persons in Albania, and this attack clearly demonstrate that there is an urgent need for action on part of the authorities, says Mina Skouen.
– Lack of clear reactions from the authorities or evasiveness to recognize the motive of the crime may give the impression that the trans community is a legitimate target for hate groups. The legal steps taken now will also influence their safety in the future.
The conference was supported by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the regional project “Access to justice for LGBTI persons in the Western Balkans”, and took part in both the conference and public action.
Engage with local LGBTI+ organizations
– We demand Albanian authorities to find the perpetrators of this heinous crime and to treat this case with utmost seriousness, says Xheni Karaj, Executive Director of NHCs partner organization Aleanca LGBT.
– This is not the first time that Anxhela and other members of the trans community are victimized by transphobes and homophobes who feel invincible in the face of government indifference.
Aleanca LGBT and other LGBTI+ organizations are ready to advise the city authorities on how to best deal with the challenges Anxhela and others face.
– Their advice would be a valuable contribution to the work of the city authorities as they are the once who know the needs of the community. But safety and fundamental human rights are ultimately the responsibility of the authorities, says Skouen.
– We have sent a letter to the Mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, encouraging him to meet with the LGBTI+ organizations to discuss how to find sustainable solutions for Anxhela and the trans community in general.