The debate over sexual identity politics in Albania is taking an ugly turn for church leaders who are dedicated to standing on biblical truth.
Recent news in Europe is reporting on the ‘shameful’ anti-LGBT law that Hungary has passed. Earlier this year, the European Union was declared to be a “freedom zone” for LGBTIQ people.
The members of the European Parliament announced, “LGBTIQ persons everywhere in the EU should enjoy the freedom to live and publicly show their sexual orientation and gender identity without fear of intolerance, discrimination or persecution, and authorities at all levels of governance across the EU should protect and promote equality and the fundamental rights of all, including LGBTIQ persons.”
Countries in the EU that do not conform face incredible pressure to revise their national policies, like what Albania is currently facing.
The Turning Tides of Culture
One of World Challenge’s partners in Albania is Pastor Akil Pano, a known public figure who has defended biblical values in debates on various secular TV shows. He has now come under fire for his stance on homosexual and transgender issues.
This move away from traditional values and social views that would have been considered par for the course is deeply disturbing to many Albanians.
After World War II, Albania’s Communist government cracked down harshly on all forms of worship; but despite its rigorous attempts at repression until as recently as 1990, the majority of Albanians adhere to some form of faith. Balkan Transitional Justice reports that over half of the country considers themselves Muslim and another 16 percent are either Catholic or Orthodox Christian while “…only 2.5 per cent declared that they were atheists.”
Given its conservative religious roots both in Islam and Orthodox Christianity, it’s perhaps no surprise that Albanian politics has not historically promoted the LGBTIQ agenda. Pressure is growing for them to do so, however, in the last few years.
Most recently, our partners reported, “During pride month, the debates on LGBT issues have escalated and have reached great focus in Albania. The LGBT community wants to replace the titles ‘father’ and ‘mother’ from the birth certificate and other documentation and replace them with ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2.’”
Obviously, this motion has been contested by faith leaders like Akil in Albania, and now they are being attacked for their beliefs.
Church Leaders Under Fire
Pastor Akil was very much involved in this debate, standing for the biblical definition for marriage and a healthy family.
The LGBT community took snippets of Akil’s discussion out of the context of the debate he was taking part in and positioned them as hate speech. Shortly after, Akil received an email from the State Commissioner of Civil Rights, informing him that the LGBT community had filed a lawsuit against him. He was summoned by the commissioner to give an explanation for the accusations that were being leveled against him.
Our partners shared, “This issue can become very big as even foreign embassies are supporting their cause. We need your support and prayers for God’s wisdom, protection and guidance on how to handle this issue.
“We appreciate your friendship, support and prayers, and we are sure as we live in this time of great darkness, the light of Christ will shine brighter through us all.”
Please join us in praying for Pastor Akil, his family and the many believers in Albania who are struggling with this issue.