2013-annual-report-engIn April, 2014 PINK Armenia NGO published its annual report on human rights situation of LGBT people in Armenia.

Human rights violations of LGBT people remained of much concern during the year of 2013.  Violations are widespread and cover almost all spheres of life. Family, educational institutions, healthcare institutions, police and military institutions are the main spheres where human rights of LGBT people are violated. Issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity are usually approached from a negative point of view, defenders of LGBT rights are considered as “traitors of the State”, and LGBT people are presented as enemies of the society. As a result, any sphere of social life is becoming a place for discrimination, degradation, and ill treatment and violence. The intimidating activities toward LGBT people and supporters are considered to be new challenges which were not countered in a comprehensive way. The statements of state officials contribute to human rights violations of LGBT people, creating an atmosphere of impunity.

Despite being a signatory to several international declarations and conventions, the Government of Armenia has failed to address the issue of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation. Moreover recent events showed that there is also lack of knowledge among the society and a failure in awareness raising regarding these issues. As a result, human rights of LGBT people as well as their advocates are being violated in almost all spheres of life.

The report summarizes public and highlighted cases of human rights violations of LGBT people and subsequent events in 2013. More particularly, it sums up offenses of physical, other type of human rights violations toward LGBT people,        the manipulation of LGBT issues through authorities during each pre and post electoral campaign, the atmosphere of impunity and lacking in access to free and fair trial, the legislative initiatives, engagement of Diaspora, recommendations from international organizations on LGBT human rights protection, hysteria around “Gender equality” law, LGBT people in different street and public actions, how media is covering LGBT issues, and homophobia and transophobia in general.

The report states that in 2013 Armenia has clearly slid backwards as intolerant views were voiced extensively, and indeed prevailed, during a national debate around gender equality. Government officials condone violent attacks against LGBT people, characterizing the violence as an expression of “traditional values.”

photo by Nora Kayserian

photo by Nora Kayserian

Physical violence towards LGBT people

The offenses of physical violence towards LGBT people are mostly bias motivated, i.e. are based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity of an individual. Mostly all the cases have been the result of initiation of conflict by the perpetrators, as an illustration of the “belief” that being LGBT is wrong, which has been accompanied by various forms of violence, including but not restricted to battery, infliction of bodily damage, violence through use of weapons, threats of use of violence, blackmail for not harming a person, harassment, etc.

Human Rights Ombudsman

Human Rights Ombudsman of Armenia, Karen Andreasyan, made a statement: “Perversion of Komaygi [cruising park] should be abolished. It is possible. It is European. […]Such perversion should be abolished, as it is not only immoral, but also illegal.”

Media

Media publications often manipulate the news using a variety of strategies that can alter the readers’ perception. In Armenian reality, different media sources often make up fake stories concerning events to take place or about private lives of LGBT people in order to make social tensions and disruption, which creates an atmosphere of unease and tension for many LGBT persons. Comments on articles on topics related to LGBT are abusive, degrading and often include direct or indirect threats towards members of LGBT community, however, they are never moderated by the websites’ administration.

Letter to Armenian President Regarding Proposal for Anti-LGBT Legislation from Human Rights Watch

Any measures to limit LGBT peoples’ freedom of expression and assembly on the basis of their sexual or gender identity would further reflect the Armenian government’s noncompliance with its obligations to promote tolerance towards LGBT people and protect them against discrimination. They could also possibly condone homophobia and transphobia, which contributes to a climate of hatred and violence.

Public Officials: Hate Speech Promoters

“Armenian youth will bring more benefit to the people, if they fight against sexual minorities instead of fighting against transportation fare rise.” (Vice-president of the Republican Party of Armenia, the head of RPA parliamentary faction Galust Sahakyan).

Nvard Margaryan