Thursday 5 October 2017

Celebrating Armenian activist: Armenia champion of LGBT rights Mamikon Hovsepyan - recipient of Bob Hepple Equality Award 2017 in London

This year’s Award aimed at recognising “someone who has made a unique contribution to promoting equality at their local or national level”.  When the Equal Rights Trust announced opening of nominations  for this year’s Award, they particularly welcomed “nominees who champion the role of equality in the enjoyment of other human rights; those who work to eradicate discrimination comprehensively, on a variety of different grounds; and those who fight intersectional discrimination”.

As per Equal Trust representatives, they received numerous nominations of great candidates from across the globe, but the Trust was unanimous in their decision to choose Mamikon, who was nominated by the Human Rights House Foundation. They were impressed by Mamikon’s championing intersectional approach to equality and human rights in Armenia.
Celebrating Armenian Activist, Mamikon Hovsepyan
We are delighted to celebrate Mamikon Hovsepyan, champion of LGBT rights in Armenia and the wider region and Executive Director of PINK Armenia as our worthy winner. While fighting tirelessly to combat discrimination against LGBT individuals, Mamikon has also been actively involved in initiatives for tackling violence against women. He has consistently advocated for a holistic approach to non-discrimination, and is collaborating with members of Armenia’s Non-Discrimination and Equality Coalition to promote the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in the country. 
Since it was founded, PINK Armenia has been the subject of numerous threats and intimidation; in 2015, 37 NGOs detailed such instances in a joint letter to the President of Armenia and on two occasions safety concerns resulted in PINK Armenia relocating offices. When these challenges have arisen, PINK Armenia has stood tall, continuing to speak out for some of the most marginalised individuals in Armenian society.
So very proud of my dear friend Mamikon. Well deserved, indeed. He is my hero. A true champion of human rights in Armenia and beyond. An inspirational figure.

The Award ceremony was held in London on Wed 4 Oct. Below are few pictures of the day, as well as Mamikon’s acceptance speech in full.

*A moment of receiving Bob Hepple Equality Award

*Acceptance speech

*After the Award ceremony

Mamikon's acceptance speech:

“I want to thank you for being here and showing your support. Thanks to the Equal Rights Trust for initiating this award, for highlighting the work of activists in the world; also thanks to those who recognised my work, and thanks to Human Rights House Foundation for nominating me and for cooperation with me and other prominent human rights defenders in Armenia.

Armenia has such a great potential to become one of the best countries in the world where human rights are protected, where everybody enjoys equality and harmony, where discrimination has no place. Unfortunately, it is not there yet; still the government cannot see the benefits of equality, still the regime terrifies people if they raise social, political or other issues, still the system use oppressions against its citizens.

Human rights defenders, LGBT people, feminists, human rights activists and other minorities are still being called “enemies of nation”. We are being discussed in local media as a threat for nation. 10 years ago it was hard for me to see my picture and name in a newspaper where I was presented as a “danger” but later it became a usual thing for me and I started to take it easy. It is important for me that I am not alone in the fight for justice.

I am proud to work with a group of strong and brave people at PINK Armenia. We know how to escape the troubles, we know how to solve the problems, we know how to make others smile and we know how to make joke or laugh, even when we have a hard time.

I am so proud to have friend who are feminists, environmental activists, people who work on disability issues or HIV issues, and those who simply support different causes focused on equal rights. It is powerful to have allies like them who never leave me alone.

I am touched that’s my work with PINK Armenia has been noticed. It makes us stronger and prouder of the work we do.

This award encourages me in my fight as an activist to continue empowering others to join the frontline and make the world a better place for everyone.

I am sure we can change this world together and make it safer by touching people’s hearts, changing minds and sharing our own stories about acceptance and equality.”
Lusine Saghumyan, human rights activist from Armenia, nailed it on Twitter:
This guy is bringing an award to #armenia, but not so many people are going to be proud of him here. I proudly say I AM PROUD OF YOU MAMIK.