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Twenty young transgender activists from Yerevan and different regions of Armenia, who had participated in the “Human Rights in Touch with Tomorrow” training-course, held a series of online meetings to discuss human rights and fundamental freedoms, the prospects of activism in Armenia, hate speech and violence against activists, stigma and discrimination on social media, advocacy, leadership, transgender people’ mental health and physical safety, social media campaigning skills, etc.
The first online meeting took place on April 5, which was initiated and carried out by transgender activist Kuka Kasyan, who had been fighting hate speech and violence for years and raising the visibility of transgender people on social media. K. Kasyan thanked all the participants for attending the organized online meeting and jointly reducing calls for discrimination, hate speech and violence against transgender people in Armenia. During the meeting K. Kasyan also presented the growing threats against trans people on social media, as a result of which the mental and psychological health of transgender people was being impaired. The participants discussed how in the future they could collect all the cases of hate speech and apply to the relevant bodies to ensure solutions to that problem.
The second meeting was organized by transgender activists Vivien and Nikita. The topic of the meeting was the security and self-defense of transgender people. The participants discussed how transgender people were regularly discriminated, humiliated and ridiculed by the society. According to the participants, there were during the nighttime when transgender people had been attacked causing physical and mental injuries, and that problem had not been solved for years. Transgender activists discussed how to protect themselves and increase the level of awareness on security among transgender people. They also highlighted the importance of such meetings, as the discussions would further enhance the level of information and strengthen the steps taken for the safety of transgender people.
The next online meeting took place on April 12. It was held by transgender activists M. Sarkisyan and L. Martirosyan. During the meeting, M. and L. spoke about the situation of trans activism in Armenia, involving more transgender people in activism. The participants raised a number of security issues that prevent trans people from speaking up about their problems often in public. At the end of the meeting, the activists stressed the need to be fearless and fight for equality, security, well-being in order to end the stigma and discrimination against transgender people.
Continuing the series of online events, the next meeting took place on April 17, again with the participation of trans activists. The meeting was conducted by M. Atabekyan and E. Karapetyan, who spoke about the mental, physical health and safety of transgender people. Being a transgender activist studying at the medical university, M. expressed a desire to help those who need first aid. The participants thanked the “Right Side” HRD NGO for providing psychological support to trans LGBIQ people by highlighting the importance of that to avoid a number of mental problems in the future.
The next online meeting was dedicated to raising the level of awareness of transgender people about their rights. The training was conducted by transgender activist G. and NGO’s lawyer Arthur Margaryan. A. Margaryan and G. presented how to protect their rights in the police, courts and a number of other institutions. The participants received comprehensive answers through questions and answers, as well as strengthened their knowledge, which would further contribute to their activism.
The meeting-discussion organized on April 21 was dedicated to the topic of leadership. The meeting was conducted by transgender activists A. and G., who had gained in-depth knowledge on the topic. The participants discussed the best models of European leadership, management skills and methods. At the end of the meeting, the participants enthusiastically mentioned that they would very much like to apply these models in Armenia as well.
The next meeting took place on May 3, chaired by activist H. Galstyan. The topic of the meeting was advocacy and campaign organization skills. The participants discussed how to involve community initiatives, professionals and various other groups in advocacy processes so that activism was further strengthened and developed in Armenia. A comprehensive discussion was held on the methods of organizing campaigns, a map of LGBTQI holidays and remembrance days was drawn up in order to organize public campaigns in the future.
During the penultimate online meeting, transgender activists discussed how learning foreign languages would enable them to apply for international exchange programs and volunteer work opportunities aimed at strengthening transgender and LGBIQ people by giving them new knowledge and knowledge-sharing skills. According to the participants, the level of hatred in Armenia is so high that they are not able to get enough knowledge in schools, and they are not able to be admitted universities because they are discriminated against by students or professors. They expressed a desire for the NGO to organize foreign language courses for transgender people, which would help them to be more educated, informed and strong.
The last meeting took place on May 24, with the participation of transgender activists who had attended the training course and conducted the series of webinars, as well as participated in public events organized by the NGO, filmed in social advertisements, prepared leaflets, had various meetings with transgender people, raising their level of information about this project and involving new transgender activists, who would further support such campaigns, increase the visibility of transgender people and strengthen the Trans movement in Armenia. The participants summarized all the webinars, planned the further steps, which would be aimed at the development and strengthening of activism, building a democratic and secure Armenia.
The activists thanked the Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO, as well as the European Union and the Council of Europe for the opportunity to involve transgender activists in the program, which helped them to be informed about human rights, advocacy, leadership, security, hate speech and other themes.
The series of meetings has been carried out within the framework of the “Strengthening access to justice through non-judicial redress for victims of discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes in the Eastern Partnership” project which is funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe and implemented by the Council of Europe․
The views expressed during the meeting can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Union or the Council of Europe.
May 31, 2021 Armenia, Yerevan