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xheni karaj
On World Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, we tell the story of Xheni Karaj, who has defied death threats to campaign for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Albania. She was honored by the organization "Civil Rights Defenders" for her commitment to gender equality.

Originally published on 16 May, 2022, this article was updated on 16 May, 2023

Activist and gay rights defender Xheni Karaj received the Civil Rights Defender award in April 2022 from the Swedish human rights NGO of the same name.

The award recognizes Xheni Karaj's commitment to advocating for political reform and to behavioral change, and providing protection and a sense of community for LGBTI+ people in Albania.

In 2009, she founded the Aleanca - Alliance Against Discrimination of LGBT People, an association whose main ambition is to contribute to the creation of a freer, open and egalitarian Albania, embracing diversity, inclusion and gender equality for all. 

But it has not come without a cost. When she and her organization Aleanca recently campaigned for the right of a lesbian couple to register as parents of two baby girls she received numerous and brutal threats.

AFD’s backing for the welfare of LGBTI+ people

Groups like Aleanca need support, and AFD Group is financing projects that promote respect, dignity and gender equality. Since 2020, AFD has backed the Aleanca project with the aim of strengthening the organization's ability to better promote the inclusion and protection of sexual minorities; to improve the protection and resilience of the LGBTI+ community and to promote a positive image of LGBTI+ people through advocacy and awareness-raising.

This support is part of AFD's commitment to social cohesion, one of the themes to which the Group is devoted, which includes the planet, the well-being of populations, peace and shared prosperity.