Sunday, 13 October 2013

Nouvelles d'Arménie on discrimination of trans people & LGBT rights violations in Armenia

While Armenia human rights ombudsman, conveniently ‘forgetting’ what his position is all about, targets trans sex workers and uses neo-nazi website to justify his discriminatory statement, the October issue of prominent French Armenian magazine Nouvelles d'Arménie publishes an extensive report on discrimination of trans people in Armenia, with a reflection of LGBT rights violations in general.

Below is a brief outline in English, accompanied by pictures of original French article. Many thanks to Adrineh for translation.

"Denounced by their own family. Banned by an army that considers them mentally ill. Violated and beaten without the police coming to their aid. Armenia is a hostile land for homosexuals, bisexuals, and, a fortiori, for transsexuals and transvestites. Many of them choose exile where they benefit from refugee status."

Then the article mentions a few details of a few of the trans sex workers. These sex workers are violated, beaten but the police don't help them, and in fact, says it's their fault. "Each night, we go out never knowing if we will be alive tomorrow," says Aram. Transsexualism is not recognised in Armenia and even less accepted, liked to a psychological pathology and mixed up with homosexuality.

The article cites PINK Armenia's 2011 survey in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor: 72.1% of those asked have a negative perception of homosexuality and 71.5% believe the state should take measures to "combat it". They cite a psychologist named Davit Galstian: "There's a real phobia of homosexuals in our society; they are considered like beasts". Also cites an Armenian AIDS Center statistic that "only 2%" of AIDS cases were identified as being "related to homosexual practices".

Next section talks about the work of PINK Armenia: not only promoting sexual health and education, but also protecting the rights of the LGBT community. Head of PINK Armenia Mamikon Hovsepyan is cited. Mamikon mentions that though sex between two men was decriminalised in 2003, thus fulfilling one of the conditions of Armenia joining the Council of Europe and though in 2008, Armenia ratified the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, no legislation exists today to condemn discrimination, the inciting of violence or hate crimes or [hate] speech against people because of their sexual orientation. This legal vacuum was illustrated in May 2012 with the attack on gay-friendly bar DIY.

This fuelled a rise in violence against the LGBT community, not only by political actors from all sides, overtly oppressive, denouncing them (LGBT) as unacceptable and a menace to Armenian society, but also by religious authorities and local media, which relay messages of homophobic impunity.

The article mentions the Diversity March, 21 May 2012, and the counter-demonstrators who said "Send the homosexuals to Baku" and "Armenia without homosexuals". Article mentions Parada film screening which had to be postponed and finally cancelled because of extremist groups.

"In this context, there is hardly any other choice for many than exile." Article concludes by saying that many go abroad (get a visa for Europe), notably France, get refugee status under the category of being persecuted because of sexual orientation in Armenia.

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