PINK Armenia Newsletter [20]
April, 2016

Report of the Ombudsman of Armenia in Respect of LGBT people

Sexual minorities in Armenia have been subjected to discrimination in the spheres of employment, healthcare and education, reads the Republic of Armenia’s Ombudsman’s Annual Report, explaining that sexual minorities seek jobs in the areas and fields where they will find tolerance. The report states that sexual minorities are subjected to discrimination in healthcare (there are registered cases when people were not provided medical service because of their sexual orientation) and are particularly vulnerable in penitentiary institutions, where they are involved in work that is considered to be degrading—cleaning toilets, discarding garbage, etc.
Referring to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the report states that sexual minorities continue to face discrimination, harassment and physical violence; gender identity and sexual orientation are not included in anti-discrimination legislation (anti-discrimination legislation currently does not exist in Armenia).
While HRW received information on this matter from Armenian organizations working within the sphere of LGBT human rights protection, the Ombudsman chose to include information from the international organization in its annual report, rather than from the people and organizations that work directly with these issues.
Lips of Pride

HAYP Pop Up Gallery, a moving art collective that curates and sets up art exhibitions across Armenia, dedicated its most recent gallery, “Lips of Pride,” to women artists, women’s bodies and sexualities, and societal perceptions of shame in Armenia, from April 8-18, 2015. “Lips of Pride” aimed to begin a conversation on a taboo topic, and to give a voice to those who are often silenced by shame.
For 10 days the gallery hosted several events that facilitated that conversation, including a panel discussion on “Shame & Sexuality” with Ani Jilozyan from Women's Support Center, sexologist Dr. Narine Nersisyan, and PINK Armenia psychologist Lilit Avetisyan, who talked about how speech affects our perspectives on sexuality, the role that shame plays in our lives and the affects of shame on LGBT people. Lilit’s final message for participants of the discussion was that we should never be ashamed of our sexualities, which is an indivisible part of who we are. PINK’s engagement in the exhibit events continued with the workshop “Understanding Human Sexuality,” which covered personal experiences and a general understanding of the different dimensions of sexuality.

PINK Armenia Joins the Community, Rights, Gender (CRG) Working Group

Adjacent to the Country Coordination Mechanism for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (CCM) of the Republic of Armenia, a new working group has been formed—“Community, Rights, Gender” (CRG). PINK Armenia was invited to be a part of the working group.
The group aims to ensure community involvement in decision-making processes and to ensure the inclusion of human rights protection and gender equality within CCM. One of its main objectives is the monitoring and analysis of human rights violation cases among people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and people living with certain infections, as well as ensuring the accessibility of medical assistance within the spheres of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
“Armenia’s Leading Political Party Employs ‘Hate Speech’ toward LGBTI People, Rather than Promote Equality” Says State Department

Armenia’s officials, including police, military and prison authorities, have subjected lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people to abuse and discrimination with impunity, says the US State Department’s annual report on human rights in 2015, published on April 13.
“Rather than promote equality, leading political party representatives and media affiliated with authorities continued to employ ‘hate speech’ toward members of the LGBTI community, strengthening the environment of impunity in the country,” reads the report, citing PINK Armenia’s annual report, adding that LGBTI people experience physical violence and threats of violence, blackmail, and harassment.
Events at PINK in April

On the eve of Day of Silence, on April 14, an interactive workshop was held at PINK about bullying, why bullying must be addressed and how we can stop it.
On April 19, a second workshop and discussion was held on women’s sexuality, sexual and reproductive health and sexual intercourse with LBTQ women, where sexual and reproductive systems—including anatomy, physiology and hygiene, menstrual cycle—myths and facts, sexually transmitted infections, lesbian and bisexual relationships were discussed.
“Queer Talks” were organized every Friday throughout the month of April, while community members initiated movie screenings and workshops on various subjects, including the internal and external energies surrounding us and alternative healing methods. Overall, more than 100 LGBTQ people and allies attended PINK events in April.
PINK Armenia, together with the local LGBT community, also participated in a round-table style discussion and workshop with Amnesty International, which is currently conducting research on LGBT rights in former Soviet Union states in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The discussion revealed many interesting realities that the LGBT community and movement face in Armenia.
Escalation of Violence Along the Line of Contact with Azerbaijan

The tragic outbreak of unprecedented fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh on April 2 produced a frightening wave of nationalist rhetoric in Armenia. As a result of this nationalism, a dramatic new backlash against gender and equal rights for women and LGBT people was seen.
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