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European Endowment For Democracy has published its Annual report, where the organization highlights what activities were held for defending democracy in the European Neighbourhood and beyond. EED mentions, that 2022 was undoubtedly the most difficult year since its establishment in 2013 because the year was dominated by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In the EED alumni stories section, The Right Side NGO was featured for advocating for the rights of Armenia’s transgender community. EED provided start-up funding to the Right Side NGO in 2017 to assist the organization to begin its awareness-raising work around the issues faced by the transgender community in Armenia. Today, Right Side NGO is a prominent player in Armenia. It has helped hundreds of transgender individuals in difficulty, assisted with name changes, and provided legal services to address discrimination, hate speech, and crime. Its team accompanies clients to courts and police stations and collects information on violations of human rights the NGO works closely with family members to help support transgender people build relationships and become involved in social life, and it provides an important hub for the community for meetings, trainings, mobilization, and advocacy. Lilit Martirosyan, who leads Right Side NGO, came to international prominence in 2019 as the first trans person to take to the Armenian parliamentary podium, when she condemned discrimination against transgender people at a session of the parliament’s Committee of Human Rights. Her speech sparked a violent backlash, forcing Lilit to temporarily leave the country.
EED notes, that, although there are few targeted campaigns against LGBTQI+ people than previously, Right Side NGO’s work remains crucial in Armenia, as the community still faces harassment, discrimination, and violence.
March 30, 2023 Armenia, Yerevan