According to Mamikon Hovsepyan, head of Pink Armenia, about 10 LGBT Armenians a year let them know of being exempted from serving in the army by the MoD order under the article 8(b) (‘mental health problems’). Of course, the real number of such exemptions could be much higher, as many people simply “do not inform us or are not aware of us”, says Mamikon in an interview with newsbook.am.
This is a controversial issue, as when LGBT people disclose their orientation, the army representatives tell them that the sexual orientation is not a ground for being exempted from serving in the army, hinting that perhaps ‘we will discover other health problems’, i.e. mental health, so that to fit the article 8(b).
On one hand, it is outrageous that for army purposes the sexual orientation is being equalled to having a mental health problem. On the other hand, as Mamikon rightly pointed out, while the issue of violence and bullying in the Armenian army applies to recruits of all orientations, including “traditional orientation”, LGBT recruits are much more vulnerable and subjected to more violence, bullying and isolation after their sexual orientation (real or perceived) become known.
In an interview (see below video, in Armenian), head of PINK Armenia touches upon the overall state with LGBT rights in the country, as well as possible implications of Armenia joining Russia sponsored customs union.