Friday, 24 September 2010

IWPR roundtable on LGBT issues in Armenia: ‘Why does Ombudsman trust police and not appeal by citizen?’ asks Hovsepyan


Though Armenia signed the UN Declaration Against Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in December 2008, there are still no actual laws in Armenia that protect the rights of LGBT people and prohibit discrimination based on sexual identity and gender orientation, said Mamikon Hovsepyan from PINK Armenia (Public Information and Need of Knowledge) NGO at a roundtable on LGBT issues organized by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) Armenia today.

Hovsepyan also added that Armenia, along with Azerbaijan, didn’t sign (adopt) the April 2010 Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Resolution on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The PINK Armenia representative also discussed the research the organization had conducted on discrimination and rights violation toward LGBT people in Armenia.

Hovsepyan noted that the majority of respondents noted that they have never and will never go to the police and law enforcement bodies for protecting their rights, since not only do they not resolve the issues at hand, but they also become cause for new issues to arise.

Hovsepyan recalled an occasion when a group of officers had called out derogatory terms referring to gays to a man on the street who had then actually filed a complaint with the Ombdusman on July 1, 2009 (complaint no. 1–0508). However, the RA Police also sent a letter to the police in which they described the incident much more mildly saying the man was simply brought in for questioning for 5 minutes and had his identity checked by checking his passport. According to Hovsepyan, the Ombudsman believed the police’s word over the victim’s even though the man didn’t even have his passport on him that day.

“Why do they trust the letter by the police and not by the citizen?” Hovsepyan asked.

Furthermore, he said that when IWPR representative Sara Khojoyan asked the Ombudsman if there were any complaints by LGBT people registered with their office, the Human Rights Defender had said no. Drawing on the incident he mentioned, Hovsepyan said, “Let them not say there were no complaints.”

*picture - via M.K.'s FB page

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