Karaj, together with LGBT-activist Kristi Pinderi, was among the first activists to launch the LGBT rights movement in Albania. Karaj was the first lesbian woman to be recognized in Tirana by American activist Mindy Michels and her former partner Melissa Schraibman (the latter employee of the US Embassy in Tirana ). Meetings at the home of two Americans helped create a nucleus that would serve to establish the LGBT Aleanca organization.
In May 2012, while in the studio of a political show entitled "Opinion" in TV Klan, Karaj made "unforeseen coming-out" during a fierce debate with Murat Basha, former deputy chairman of the Legality Movement Party. Basha has replicated on that show with activist Kristi Pinderi, saying, "If my son becomes like you, I better shoot him and go to jail". Karaj has described the moment in an interview with Panorama newspaper: "My reaction was unpredictable, came spontaneously. The language used by Murat Basha was completely unacceptable. It is tragic for gay family members to hear statements of murder".
Since 2012, Karaj is among the main organizers of the Pride Parade held in May at the Dëshmorët e Kombit Bulvar in Tirana. She also co-chaired the Mendo Politically project, where Albanian political parties were pushed to hold a stand on LGBT issues for the first time. Together with Pinderi she is the author of SkaNdal, a documentary on the history of the LGBT movement in Albania. Both activists have also built the first STREHA residential shelter for homeless LGBT youth.
Karaj is the second LGBT activist from Albania to be involved with the Civil Rights Defenders project, Natalia Project. This project was conceived as a security system where all human rights defenders are being bribed with a bracelet that they hold and activate. After activation, the signal is transmitted to the members of this project to assist the affected activist.
Karaj was born and raised in a family with old roots in Tirana. She studied psychology at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tirana.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xheni Karaj.|
- "Albania's LGBTQ activists are transforming their community". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
- "Madame Mapo - [PDF Document]". vdocuments.site (in Albanian). Retrieved 2019-02-20.
- "Xheni Karaj rrëfen historinë e saj për herë të parë: Si e zbulova që jam lezbike". www.panorama.com.al (in Albanian). Retrieved 2019-02-20.
- "Albania gay activists cycle to call for rights". Reuters. 2012-05-14. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
- Nation[m, DAN LITTAUER [e]Special to LGBTQ (2014-12-11). "Albania gay rights groups open first LGBTI shelter in Balkan region". LGBTQ Nation. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
- "Second Albanian LGBT Activist Included in the Natalia Project". Civil Rights Defenders. 2013-10-22. Retrieved 2019-02-20.