The government of Albania has proposed to legalise gay marriage.

Prime minister Sali Berisha told a cabinet meeting yesterday that the law was an important move against discrimination.

Albania is deeply secular but is also one of only two countries in Europe which is predominantly Muslim. Religion was banned during the Communist rule between 1944 and 1990

Although the government has admitted the move is controversial, it is thought the law is likely to pass, as Berisha’s Democrats have a majority of 74 out of 140 members of parliament.

The country is hoping to join the European Union.

Until 1995, homosexuality carried a ten-year prison sentence in the country.

Last June, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights highlighted the problems faced by gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual people in Albania.

Thomas Hammarberg’s report to the Committee of Ministers and to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended a series of measures to improve the situation, including an information campaign

Hammarberg said that LGBT people in Albania “are routinely subject to intolerance, physical and psychological violence and seen by many as persons suffering from an illness.”