Albania’s Pioneering LGBT Activist: ‘We Should Not Be Second-Class Citizens’

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04/28/2022

When Xheni Karaj started to engage in LGBT activism 13 years ago, she was barely aware what activism was – and the relevant organizations were still at a very grassroots stage. At 21, she thought she was perhaps the only lesbian in Albania. Her teenage years were marked by a depression that reflected a fear of not fulfilling the projections that both society and family had of her. A lot has changed since 2009, but a lot remains the same, too, she says. Last week, the Stockholm-based international human rights organization Civil Rights Defenders awarded her the prestigious prize of civil rights defender for her work to bring change to the community in her country, alongside Uganda’s Frank Mugisha.

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