Celebrating Love – OneBodyOneFaith Supports the First Same-Sex Wedding in Albania

Celebrating Love –  OneBodyOneFaith Supports the First Same-Sex Wedding in Albania

At 6pm on the 19th May 2024, a wedding was scheduled to take place in Tirana, Albania. This is not an unusual occurrence in a country where weddings can sometimes last for days, and where family is often prioritised above almost everything else. However, in addition to the usual joyful preparations you might expect, there was also a sense of fear and trepidation. This wedding was to be the first same-sex celebration of its kind in Albania and there were some who were deeply unhappy about this.


As many of you may know, OneBodyOneFaith’s CEO, Luke Dowding, has a long and detailed history with Albania. Luke first visited there in 2006 as part of a week-long mission programme with his local Baptist church, and then lived there for three months in 2008. Since then, Luke has regularly gone backwards and forwards between the UK and Albania, and now spends much of his time in the capital city, Tirana. He has long been an advocate of the LGBT+ rights movement there and was delighted to first be a Patron for the LGBT+ youth homelessness shelter, Streha, and more recently a Board Director.

It is in this context that Luke was delighted to support the wedding of Alba and Eda, two well-known LGBT+ activists in Tirana. In discussion with the Board of OneBodyOneFaith and the leadership team of Affirm: Baptists Together for LGBT+ Inclusion, it was agreed that Revd. Andy Fitchet and Revd. Dawn Savidge would have their travel and accommodation costs covered by the two charities to enable this landmark event to take place.

Whilst not a legal service, as same-sex marriage is currently not permissible according to Albania’s Family Code, it was our hope that this service would be as close to a marriage ceremony as possible, and that the language of God’s love would be loud and clear throughout. Dawn, Co-Director of Affirm and a Patron of OneBodyOneFaith, delivered the sermon for the occasion, and shares:

"The scriptures I read tell us that love comes from God, not that we loved God, but that the Divine loved us. If we love one another, the Divine lives in us and love is made complete in us. Whoever abides in love abides in the Divine.

Alba and Eda have truly abided in love, not just in the abstract sense, but in the very real, tangible acts of daily life and commitment to each other and their daughters. Their commitment to each other is a blessing to us all."

Considering the backlash from conservative religious leaders and members of the civil sector and public, it was especially important that this celebration be recognised for what it is: not only a declaration of love between two individuals, but also a prophetic voice of hope for the future.

“It was clear that some church leaders had an issue with these plans as soon as this service became public knowledge”, writes Luke, “and their behaviour has been truly abhorrent. It is an affront to the message of Christ that those who claim to be Christian can speak so terribly of others made in the image of God, and whose words can incite such anger and threats of violence from others. As leaders of OneBodyOneFaith, we knew that supporting this was an essential witness to the love of Christ being FOR ALL.”

The service itself was a beautiful occasion, with elements of Christian weddings, opportunities for photos, the throwing of the bouquet, and traditional Albanian dancing thrown in for good measure. Being present there was an honour and a joy, and the location of Tirana City Hall stood as a witness that Albania and its institutions should be for everyone. 

Much of the extremely hateful material that has been shared since the wedding has not only been directed at the couple, Alba and Eda, but also at Andy, Affirm’s Co-Director and authorised Methodist minister:

“Standing up for what is right is often costly. The online abuse aimed at Alba and Eda is deeply saddening. Whilst those who wish to sow seeds of hate and division will say hurtful things about them, and try to discredit me or my ordination, one thing is above it all: ‘God is love, and those who live in love, live in God.’ It was a joy to celebrate and bless that very love between Alba and Eda. Love always wins in the end and we will continue to sow seeds of love, hope, justice and joy. For those are the things of God.”

Despite all of this, the happy couple were delighted with their day, the impact of which will ripple forward for years to come. As Christians, we believe that the love of God is for all, and that a public demonstration of a couple’s love for one another is an expression of that same Divine love. Thank you, Alba and Eda, for inviting us to be part of your deeply moving and special day, and we continue to pray for a future in which all people are free from fear, equal in legal standing, and able to love and live openly.


Luke Dowding

CEO, OneBodyOneFaith


Revd. Andy Fitchet

Baptist, and authorised Methodist Minister

Co-Director, Affirm: Baptists Together for LGBT+ Inclusion


Revd. Dawn Cole-Savidge

Baptist Minister

Co-Director, Affirm: Baptists Together for LGBT+ Inclusion