Pastor Akil Pano is a faithful evangelical pastor and philosophy professor at State University of Tirana in Albania who found himself in hot legal water for simply answering a journalist’s question honestly. He is being forced to appear in court later this week for his “transgression.”

Pastor Pano is a well-known figure in Albanian media because of his deep interest in bringing truth and grace to contemporary cultural issues. In the summer of last year, he was invited to be a guest on a television debate on the nature of family. He was asked what he thought of governments adopting “Parent 1 and 2” rather than “mother and father” as a legal descriptor of parentage.

Ask Pastor Pano a question and he will give you an honest answer. He sees that as a sign of respect to the person asking the question and the listening audience. He believes that an honest, direct answer contributes to a vibrant public square which helps the community make the wisest decisions on important matters. And he did exactly that on this question.

He told the audience such a definition was de-humanizing.

Using Parent 1 and 2 reduce people and parents to a number, all simply to show allegiance to the disturbing anti-scientific gender dogma that seeks to erase the meaning and virtue of male and female. He correctly said such policy requirements are the sign of a “sick society” because those pushing it “want to deprive the next generation’s children of their right to a mother and a father.”

Pano is exactly right and good for him for saying so. When you de-gender the family, you deprive every child involved the love and knowledge of their own mother or father, the very people who are their actual parents. That is a very unhealthy thing.

The word “sick” was taken personally by an Albanian gender activist organization and they reported Pastor Pano to the anti-discrimination commissioner. Initially, the government rejected the complaint, but that changed in a week. The commissioner wrote in late 2021 that Pano’s words “go beyond the freedom of expression and the right to express one’s religion and outlook on life” and were not protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Pano was told he must make a public statement denouncing “hateful rhetoric against LGBTQ people” which he refused to do. Pano, of course, denies the charge. Speaking up forcefully against the de-gendering of parenting and redefinition of the family is not hatred or mean. And what is more, the pastor was simply answering a question asked of him by a journalist. His real crime, if the authorities are honest, is simply giving the “wrong” answer and that is no longer allowed under the repressive regime of gender politics.

Pano has challenged the commission’s mandate in court. He has had many hearings before government officials and that process continues this Friday. Thankfully, Pano has received legal help from Alliance Defending Freedom International. And the President of Albania, Ilir Meta, personally decorated Pastor Pano with a national award of merit for his civic work earlier this year before leaving office.

Pastor Pano and his wife Linda say such actions by this commission harken back to the dark times of communism in their country. “During the Communist era, you could not openly express yourself,” Linda says. All citizens were forced to repeat the party line of the new regime. “It seems that we are going back in that direction,” she adds. “But as Christians, we cannot bow to the suppression of opinions, we must do God’s will.”

Please pray for the Panos and all other conscientious objectors to the heavy-handed gender ideology regime that seeks to control both language and thought. Pray that their freedoms to think and act for themselves, and to express those ideals freely, are protected and not punished.