To the Editor:
As a fervent admirer of many aspects of contemporary
Albania, I am very disturbed by Article 137 of the current Penal Code,
which decrees that "sodomy", which, I understand, includes homosexual relations
between consenting adults in private, is punishable by up to ten years'
One wonders what such a harsh sentence is supposed to achieve.
It cannot be the reformation of the "offender", since the vast majority
of inverts can no more help their sexual orientation than they can help
having been born with a hare lip or an unsightly birth mark. It cannot
be the regime's desire to increase the birth rate, since homosexuals comprise
on average a mere 10% of the population of any nation, and of these only
a few ever enter into matrimony. It cannot be to curb the spread of AIDS,
since the Penal Code was drawn up long before that virus became a threat
One must therefore regretfully conclude that Article 137
is a purely retributive measure directed against behaviour which is perfectly
legal in most "Western" countries, and which can lead, in many cases, to
a stable and loving relationship.
John L. Broom, Orkney.
The Editor replies:
'Albanian Life' takes no position, favourable or otherwise, on the policies
of the Albanian government. It endeavours merely to present the facts of
such policies and the reasons presented for them by the Albanian authorities.
It leaves readers to form their own moral judgments.
Mr. Broom states that he is "very disturbed" that the practice of sodomy
(that is, anal quasi-sexual intercourse) is punishable in Albania by deprivation
of liberty for up to ten years, a maximum sentence he describes as "harsh".
He alleges that, in contrast, homosexual relations
are "perfectly legal in most 'Western' countries". In fact, on the American
continent alone they remain illegal in Bolivia, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican
Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama,
Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago (1) and in all but
two states of the USA (2). In Britain, they remain illegal in the merchant
navy (3), in the armed forces (4), and in Scotland (5).
It must be said, also, that his attitude appears
somewhat discriminatory, since he expresses no disquiet at the fact that
sodomy between consenting adults remains under English law a crime punishable
by life imprisonment when one of the parties is female, (6) In these circumstances,
incidentally, it is not an offence under Albanian law:
"Unnatural sexual relations of a man with, a woman or of a woman with
a woman do not constitute a criminal offence and are not proscribed". (7)
Mr. Broom, presents sodomy as leading "in many cases
to a stable and loving relationship", so implying that it is on an equal
moral plane to normal sexual intercourse. Albanian law rejects this view,
and is by no means alone in doing so. Even English law, under which sodomy
between consenting adult males is legal, characterises the practice as
Mr. Broom can see no motive for the legal prohibition
of male sodomy except an irrational desire
for retribution for unorthodox behaviour. But the Albanian Penal Code
is quite clear on the motive for this piece of legislation: male sodomy
is characterised among three
". . . crimes against social morality", (9)
and the leading Albanian; textbook on penal law describes it as
". . one of the most repulsive remnants of the morality of feudal-bourgeois
On what grounds is this characterisation made?
Most Albanian psychologists accept the Marxist-Leninist
view, which characterises male homosexuality as a product of the "degradation
of the woman" in Ancient Greek society. Friedrich Engels, for example,
"This degradation of the woman was avenged on the men and degraded
them also till they fell into the abominable practice of sodomy". (11)
Reviewing Rudolf Schlesinger's book 'Changing Attitudes
in the Soviet Union: The Family', Ivor Montagu points out that in the remoter
regions of the Soviet Union male homosexuality
Mr. Broom may reply that these views homosexuality are
"out-of-date". In fact, the late psychological thought in the 'West' fully
endorse them. In his 1983 article on 'Sexual Deviations' in 'Encyclopaedia
Britannica', Robert Jesse Stolle Professor of Psychiatry at the University
California, writes that one-function of homosexuality is "to degrade the
"In a deviant act one can always find -disguised or overt, in fantasies
that accompany the act or in the act itself -- a hostility towards a sexual
object. . . One function of sexual deviation is to degrade the opposite
Since Mr. Broom is a well-known champion of "human rights", it is not irrelevant
to point out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (14), recognise
no "human right" to homosexual relations.
On the contrary, the Declaration requires that
"no one shall be subjected to degrading treatment", (15),
and, further, that,
"it is essential that human rights should be protected by the rule
of law". (16)
But since, as has been said, modern psychologic opinion holds that:
" . . one function of sexual deviation is to degrade the opposite sex",
Albanian lawyers may legitimately argue that the legal prohibition
of the practice of the sexual deviation of sodomy is required by the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
Since modern psychological thought accepts that one
function of sexual deviation is the degradation of the opposite sex and
since Albanian law prohibits such sexual deviation only by men, it is clear
that this penal legislation has the purpose of protecting women from degradation.
From the fact that Albanian law prohibits male homosexuality only, it could
be argued that it is discriminatory in favour of women. In fact, however,
Albanian law makes a number of such positive discriminations, on the grounds
that, as a result of the centuries-old socially inferior position of women,
certain positive discriminations are for the time being necessary in 'order
to bring about genuine equality between the sexes.
* * * *
The primary aim of penal measures is seen by Albanian
" reformation, that is, to educate the offender to be a good citizen".
Mr. Broom argues that treating homosexual relations
as criminal is penologically unsound since in "the vast majority" of cases
sexual orientation is innate. One must point out, firstly, that inverted
sexual orientation does not constitute a crime unless it takes the form
of male sodomy. However, Sigmund Freud pointed out that:
"Inversion can be removed by hypnotic section, which would be astonishing
in an innate characteristic'. (19)
Modern psychology agrees with Freud. American psychologist Robert Stoller
"Almost all sexual deviations are the result of postnatal psychological
. . influences". (20)
On this basis Albanian penology sees the legalisation
of male sodomy not as if an extension of human rights", but as a symptom
of social degeneration and degradation within 'Western' society.
1. C. Humana: 'World Human Rights Guide'; London;
2. R. J. Stoller: 'Sexual Deviations', in: 'Encyclopaedia Britannica',
Volume 16; Chicago; 1983; p. 604.
3. 'Sexual Offences Act, 1967', in: 'Public and General Acts: 1967';
6. J. C. Smith & B. Hogan: 'Criminal Law'; London; 1988; p. 472.
7. 1. Elezi (Ed.): 'E Drejta Penale a Republikes Popullore Socialiste
te Shqiperise' (The Penal Law of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania);
Tirana; 1982; p. 338.
8. 'All England Law Reports', 1978, Volume 1; London; 1978; p. 1131.
9. 'Kodi Penal' (The Penal Code), Articles 135-37, in: 'Kodet e Republikes
Popullore Socialiste te Shqiperise (The Codes of The People's Socialist
Republic of Albania); Tirana; 1982; p. 453.
10. 1. Elezi (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 338.
11. F. Engels: 'The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the
State'; London; 1972; p. 128.
12. 1. Montagu: Review of: R. Schlesinger: 'Changing Attitudes in Soviet
Russia: The Family', in: 'Journal of Sex Education', Volume 2, No. 1; August-September
13. R. J. Stoller: 'Sexual Deviations', in: 'Encyclopaedia
Britannica', Volume 16; Chicago; 1983; p. 60203). 14.'Universal Declaration
of Human Rights', in: I. Brownlie (Ed.): 'Basic Documents on Human Rights';
Oxford' 1971. 15. Ibid.; p. 108.
16. Ibid.; p. 107.
17. R. J. Stoller: op. cit.; p. 603.
18. A. Cela (Ed.): 'Penal Law in Albania'; 1982; Ilford; 1982; p. 4.
19. S. Freud: 'Three Essays on Sexuality', in: 'The Complete Psychological
Works', Volume 7; London; 1953; p. 140.
20. R. J. Stoller: op. cit.; p. 602.