Good Afternoon Ms. Hysi, Mr. Kodra, dear guests.
I’m very pleased to be here with you this afternoon for the opportunity to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, which was just one week ago.
Over the past week, through various events here in Albania, we have had the chance to reflect on the incredible progress that we have made in the fight to advance the human rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBTQI+ people, both in the United States and globally.
Protecting universal human rights is at the very heart of U.S. diplomacy. We remain committed to advancing human rights for all, including LGBTI+ individuals. But we still have a long way to go. All over the world, people continue to be killed, arrested, and harassed simply because of who they are, or whom they love. The United States condemns this violence and harassment.
LGBTQI+ people must be free to exercise their human rights, including freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly and association, without fear of reprisal. We believe strongly that human rights and fundamental freedoms belong to all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. President Biden has issued a Memorandum instructing all U.S. federal agencies working abroad to “ensure that U.S. diplomatic efforts and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”
The United States is happy to support Albania’s efforts in this regard, and to encourage both the government and civil society to work together to advance equality for all people. I am encouraged by the current level of activism that I see. I know that there are many organizations and activists currently working to build a sense of community and raise the visibility of LGBTQI+ issues. Their efforts can make a difference in people’s lives, by providing support and the knowledge that members of this community are not alone.
I’m pleased to be here today to launch a great civil society initiative to help prevent and fight hate speech and discrimination. I am proud of the U.S. Embassy’s support for this program. I want to thank our implementers, the Open Mind Spectrum Albania and Beyond Barrier, for their commitment to protecting the rights of minorities, women, and youth. Ending hatred, discrimination, and violence against LGBTQI+ people and other minority and marginalized communities requires collaborative action from us all. Working together, we can create a world that respects and celebrates the dignity of all individuals. It is in partnership that we will achieve our goal of a rights-respecting, inclusive society where no one lives in fear because of who they are or whom they love.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone is entitled to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that those rights are enjoyed by all.