Gay rights activists stage demonstration
About two dozen people have ridden their bikes through downtown Tirana in a public demonstration promoting gay rights, and police detained two youngsters who threw firecrackers at the cyclists.
The two gay civil groups that organised yesterday's event thanked police for protecting the bike riders.
The ride was a predecessor to a gay pride celebration that is scheduled in Albania on Thursday, and the European Union and organisations such as Human Rights Watch have condemned a comment that an Albanian Cabinet member made in March saying that people who join that celebration should be beaten.
Albania passed an anti-discrimination law in 2009, which does not allow same-sex weddings. There is still widespread homophobia in the tiny western Balkan country, but no aggressive behaviour against gays has been reported until now.
CAPTION: Karen Kleeman, second from left, hugs Maryanne Schumm, left, while Amelia Jane Carson, second from right, hugs Betty Koster, after Kleeman and Carson were married at the marriage bureau in the city clerk's office in New York, Thursday, May 10, 2012. Carson and Kleeman, who live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and have been together 28 years, travelled to New York for the express purpose of getting married. President Barack Obama's declaration that he supports gay marriage may have lacked the urgency of Kennedy's push for the Civil Rights Act, or the force and finality of the Emancipation Proclamation, but in places key to the history of gay rights, it's being greeted as a major milestone. - AP photos