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Around the world, May 17 is celebrated as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). The purpose of this day is to raise the visibility of LGBTIQ people and public awareness of LGBTIQ people’s issues and discrimination and hate crimes against them, as well as prejudices caused by sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender self-expression. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia are expressions of anxiety, hatred, anger, discomfort, and fear towards LGBTIQ people.
As the first and leading Trans, LGBIQ, and sex workers’ community-based organization in Armenia and the South Caucasus, the Right Side human rights defender NGO has been working to protect the rights of trans, LGBIQ, and sex workers since 2016. Today, one of our priorities is to challenge the social norms that perpetuate discrimination and prejudice, because it is because of these notions that homophobia, biphobia, interphobia, and transphobia are so deeply rooted in our society.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights (Article 1) and everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (Article 2). Regardless of this equality established by the RA Constitution and international law, Trans and LGBIQ people in Armenia still continue to face discrimination, oppression, and violence in various areas of their lives, as evidenced by the many cases of physical violence and hate speech in recent years. Non-acceptance by society and inaction by the state system, particularly the police, often renders Trans and LGBIQ people unprotected, homeless, and sometimes even forced to flee the country.
Unfortunately, the RA government does not pay the necessary attention to solving these urgent problems, the anti-discrimination policy is ineffective, and the challenges of Trans and LGBIQ people are marginalized, which leads to a lack of trust in the state by community representatives.
The mass media do not cover discrimination and violence against Trans and LGBIQ people, and the topic is addressed only within the framework of internal political speculation, strengthening of discrimination, and spreading of hate speech.
It is important to note that due to the lack of legal acts related to gender-based hate crimes, protection from discrimination, legal recognition of gender, sex reassignment surgery, and hormone therapy in the Republic of Armenia, the fundamental freedoms of transgender people are limited, such as the right to free movement, the right to education, family the right to draw up, etc. These problems isolate transgender people from society, transgender people in many cases lead a closed life and are subjected to ridicule and hatred.
One of the priorities of Right Side NGO is to increase the visibility of Trans and LGBIQ people, to record cases of hate crimes and discrimination, and to present these issues on national and international platforms. Since its establishment, on the basis of the work directed to the protection of the rights of Trans and LGBIQ individuals by the Right Side NGO with RA state bodies, we have registered the following advances in recent years:
This year, to mark the IDAHOBIT, the Right Side NGO, among other activities, also carried out a social survey in Yerevan, the aim of which was to reveal the attitude of the society towards LGBTIQ people, and the answers received prove that discrimination against LGBTIQI people is still big in Armenia. These statistics are worrying and reinforce the urgency of awareness and rights protection work. The Right Side NGO remains committed to ending discrimination and supporting reforms for a world free of discrimination and violence, where every individual is treated with dignity and respect, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression.
Celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia in Armenia, we are calling:
– take appropriate legal steps to ensure the legal gender recognition and name change of transgender persons, based on the right to self-determination, psychological and physical integrity, eliminating the need for coercive medical interventions.
– update the draft law on equality to include the prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity and gender self-expression.
– to ensure the protection of transgender persons from hate crimes and hate speech by law, documenting incidents and how to submit reports to other OSCE participating countries.
– to make current curricula in RA educational system inclusive from the point of view of transgender people’s rights and to teach inclusiveness, sexuality and gender issues.
– implement appropriate measures to fairly investigate all cases of violence, hatred and discrimination against transgender people.
– stop encouraging hatred, discrimination and ridicule towards transgender people through the politicization of LGBT issues.
To RA Police:
– Ensure the safety of Trans LGBIQ persons and all the rights granted to them by the RA constitution to the RA police, the prosecutor’s office, the human rights defender and relevant bodies.
To the Mass Media:
– avoid the use of incorrect and misleading terminology and stop promoting discrimination against transgender people.
– cover issues related to transgender people based on the principles of inclusiveness and sensitivity.
– stop feeding wrong prejudices and stereotypes about transgender people, presenting them as sick people who want to destroy Armenian traditions and culture.
– respect the personal life of transgender persons and cooperate with transgender persons when preparing news materials about them.
May 17, 2023 Armenia, Yerevan