Thursday, 29 January 2015

Human Rights Watch "World Report 2015": reflections on LGBT rights in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

Brief reflections of different aspects re LGBT rights in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan by Human Rights Watch within their annual World Report 2015 released today.


Minority Rights
Local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists reported that LGBT people continue to face discrimination, harassment, and physical violence. Hate speech against LGBT people, including by public officials, remains a serious issue. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not included in anti-discrimination or hate speech laws, limiting legal recourse for many crimes against LGBT people.

Iravunq newspaper published several online articles calling for LGBT people and organizations working to protect them to be excluded from public life and for their families to shun them. A May 17 article included a “blacklist” of 60 people with links to their social media pages. Several people named in the article requested a retraction, but the paper refused. Sixteen people filed lawsuits for damage to honor and dignity, but a court rejected their claims in October.

Key International Actors
The PACE fact-finding mission report noted the improved political climate and progress toward Armenia’s fulfilment of its Council of Europe (CoE) membership obligations but also highlighted serious shortcomings, including the lack of judicial independence, abuses in the military, domestic violence, and hostility toward religious minorities and LGBT people.


Anti-Discrimination and Minority Rights 
In May, parliament adopted an anti-discrimination bill that provides for protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Some criticized the bill for lacking efficient implementation mechanisms, including means for imposing financial penalties for perpetrators. The bill put the Ombudsman’s Office in charge of overseeing anti-discrimination measures.

In February, the constitutional court in Georgia struck down a 13-year-old ban on homosexual men being blood donors.


Human Rights Defenders
Isa Shahmarly, former chair of the Free (Azad) LGBT group, hanged himself with a rainbow flag in his Baku apartment in late January 2014, writing in a note that Azerbaijan society was “not for him.”

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