Today, on February 7, during the discussion at the RA National Assembly of the new domestic violence prevention law,  Member of Parliament Gegham Nazaryan from the “Armenia” faction proposed to establish that the term partners can only include male and female partners, and also made statements containing hate speech against the LGBTIQ community, specifically stating that if a person “chooses a partner of the same sex, he/she will no longer be under our protection”.

The package of amendments to the draft law on “Prevention of domestic violence, protection of persons subjected to domestic violence and restoration of family solidarity” was presented by female members of the parliament of the “Civil Contract” faction, and it prohibits virginity testing, as well as expands the definition of family and by adding the concept of a partner. During the discussion, Gegham Nazaryan asked why it is not defined who the partner is. According to him, we are living in a time when there are other known partners, and he suggested that the law should clearly state that the partners can be only male and female. MP Zaruhi Batoyan, the co-author of the project, clarified that they do not have the right to define who people choose as a partner. “We will not define discrimination, moreover, I hope that soon the government will introduce the law on equality, where discrimination on all grounds is prohibited,” she said. In response to that, Gegham Nazaryan stated that “A person is free to choose someone of the same gender as a partner, [in that case] they will no longer be under our protection. It’s already something else, I don’t want to name what it is.” MP Hasmik Hakobyan also gave a speech, and, referring to Gegham Nazaryan’s speech, said: “You say, let’s define that the love relationship should be only between a woman and a man, you also said that those who do not have a traditional sexual orientation are not under our protection, etc., this is very dangerous. From this podium, you say that if a person does not have a traditional sexual orientation, violence can be used against them, because it is not within the scope of this law.”

Right Side Human Rights Defender NGO condemns the discriminatory statements of Gegham Nazaryan, which threaten the protection of the rights of LGBTIQ people and further aggravate the negative attitude of society towards LGBTIQ people, putting them in an even more vulnerable situation. Most recently, on January 25 of this year, “The Situation of LGBTIQ+ Victims of Domestic Violence in Armenia” research was presented by the Right Side NGO, which shows that the inclusion of the partner in the domestic violence bill is a priority, as the lack of such regulation leaves out a significant part of domestic violence against LGBTIQ persons. It is unacceptable that from the podium of the RA National Assembly not only the correct terminology is not used in the speech regarding LGBTIQ persons, but also statements are made to deprive LGBTIQ persons of their fundamental human rights, which contain stigma, discrimination, hate speech and deepen the atmosphere of impunity of violence against the community.

Therefore, we call on the state authorities of the Republic of Armenia to:

– 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 LGBIQ 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 the RA educational system inclusive from the point of view of transgender LGBIQ 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 LGBIQ people.

– stop encouraging hatred, discrimination, and ridicule towards transgender LGBIQ people through the politicization of their issues.

February  7, 2024 Armenia, Yerevan

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