Saturday, 25 June 2011

Armenia: lack of non-discrimination legislation for LGBT persons amid ‘hidden’ human rights violations - Council of Europe report

The total number of member states which include sexual orientation either under comprehensive or sectoral non-discrimination legislation is thus 38 (see Map 2.1). Nine member states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, Russian Federation, San Marino, Turkey and Ukraine) have neither sectoral nor comprehensive non-discrimination legislation covering sexual orientation.

[Relevant: Revelation (well, sort of): Armenia was the last among Council of Europe member states to decriminalise gay male sex]

Several member states have specialised legislation in different fields, which includes non-discrimination provisions prohibiting discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or gender identity. By way of example, in Georgia, the Law on the Rights of the Patient (Article 6) as well as the Law on the Protection of Health (Article 6) explicitly prohibit discrimination due to sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation is an explicitly prohibited ground of discrimination in sectoral non-discrimination legislation in the area of employment, but not with respect to access to goods and services, in 11 member states: Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Malta, Poland, Portugal and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.

National structures for promoting equality possess great potential for dealing with complaints on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as promoting the enjoyment of human rights by LGBT persons more generally. However, awareness of these possibilities should be enhanced among LGBT communities as well as within national structures themselves. The Human Rights Defender of Armenia, for example, noted that his office receives a large number of complaints about discrimination from minorities but has not registered any from LGBT persons. He concludes that this “is the best proof that the problem is bigger than assumed and well hidden”.

Many LGBT NGOs interviewed for this study expressed the view that national structures were not sufficiently active in this field. Although an increasing number of equality bodies, ombudsmen and national human rights institutions appear to work on questions related to sexual orientation and homophobia, even more efforts are needed to initiate work to address discrimination on grounds of gender identity.

[Unzipped: Gay Armenia - Some positive developments in this regard in Armenia: Historic memorandum between Armenia human rights Ombudsman and PINK Armenia on protection of LGBT rights]

Despite the adoption of non-discrimination legislation in many Council of Europe member states, it has been difficult to identify comprehensive data on the application of such laws. This report identified a number of court cases related to alleged discrimination of LGBT persons either under non-discrimination legislation or other legal provisions as well as complaints submitted to national structures promoting equality. Such information on sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination has been identified in 31 member states in the period 2004 to 2010: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Cases reported by NGOs (but not officially reported by the victim to national structures promoting equality or court) are not included in this list of countries.

/emphasis mine/

*Read also: Groundbreaking Council of Europe report issues ‘red cards’ to many member states, incl. Armenia, for failing gay rights

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