Saturday, 20 April 2013

US State Department highlights LGBT discrimination in Armenia, DIY bombing and officials’ endorsement of anti-gay attacks

US State Department published its annual country-specific human rights reports, including Armenia related. In the chapter that highlights discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the report specifically describes firebombing of gay friendly DIY bar in downtown Yerevan, attacks on Diversity march, as well as endorsement by ARF Dashnaktsutyun party and ruling Republican party MPs and officials, including vice-speaker of Armenian parliament, spokesman of ruling Republican party Eduard Sharmazanov and prominent ARF Dashnaktsutyun MP Artsvik Minasyan.

source: USA Department of State

Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

No antidiscrimination laws apply to sexual orientation or gender identity. Societal attitudes toward LGBT persons remained highly negative, with society generally viewing homosexuality as an affliction. Societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity negatively affected the employment, family relations, and access to education and health care of sexual minorities.

On May 8, three men firebombed the DIY Bar in Yerevan, a popular spot for activists who promoted equal rights for women and minorities, including LGBT persons. Although there were no injuries, the bar was destroyed. Police were summoned but arrived 12 hours after firefighters extinguished the fire. The bar owner identified three suspects, of whom police arrested two, the brothers Hampig and Mkrtich Khapazyan. Legislators from the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Artsvik Minasyan and Hrayr Karapetyan, posted bail for one suspect and police released the other after he promised not to leave the country. A number of other National Assembly members, including Eduard Sharmazanov and Hovhannes Sahakyan from the ruling Republican Party, praised the actions of the Khapazyan brothers as a justified defense of the Armenian nation. Vandals spray-painted swastikas and threats against the owner of the destroyed bar on May 17 and 21.

Also in May the efforts of several NGOs to hold a “diversity march,” which local nationalists dubbed a gay parade, were thwarted by youths who shouted antigay slogans and tried to block the entrance to a building where a diversity exhibition was scheduled. Police ensured that there was no violence between the marchers and the nationalists and that the marchers were able to enter the exhibition while the protesters remained outside. The NGOs alleged that those who attempted to block the march were the same persons as those involved in the DIY bar bombing.

Openly gay men were exempt from military service, purportedly because of concern fellow service members would abuse them. However, the exemption required a medical finding, based on a psychological examination, that an individual had a mental disorder; this information was stamped in the individual’s personal documents.

According to human rights activists, sexual minorities were frequent targets for humiliating discrimination in prisons, where they were forced to perform degrading labor and were separated from the rest of the prison population.

No comments: