2018 was the year of LGBT people, but not in a positive sense. During the whole year, especially after the Velvet Revolution, the acronym LGBT did not leave the lips of the Armenian population, and the passion calmed down after the extraordinary Parliamentary elections when there was no longer need to manipulate the LGBT question.
Let’s briefly summarize what happened in the sphere of LGBT rights and LGBT people’s lives during the year.
The violence in Shurnukh village
Violence in the village of Shurukh, near Goris, was the worst of this year.
A resident of Shurnukh village Hayk Hakobyan hosted his friends, some of them were LGBT activists. Residents of the village and Goris, knowing that, went to the house of Hayk, called out the guests and demanded that they leave the village. As a result, they were beaten, stoned and were forced to leave the village.
With those injuries and humiliation, everything did not end. After the incident, various groups of society justified the violence, including political and public figures, human rights defenders, artists, journalists, and, of course, religious figures. Even a motorcade and a celebration in Shurnukh was arranged in defense of the perpetrators.
Meanwhile, the investigative department of Goris closed the criminal case based on the amnesty granted in October, 2018.
Judicial cases against the City Hall and the Ministry of Culture
Three social advertising posters on LGBT issues were placed in the center of Yerevan in 2017. The billboards were up for only two days, as the municipality decided to remove, substantiating that the advertising agency had not received permission to install them. Later, no advertising agency agreed to place the posters.
Pink Armenia appealed to the court in order to restore advertising posters and recognize the violated rights of the organization, believing that removal of posters is a manifestation of discrimination because the subject is related to LGBT people.
In September of 2018, the administrative court in its last hearing decided to dismiss the case after 9 months. Pink Armenia has appealed the verdict to the Court of Appeals.
In 2017, for the same advertisements, Pink Armenia applied to the Ministry of Culture to recognize them as social. The ministry refused, saying that ads did not address an issue of public importance.
On this occasion, Pink Armenia also appealed to the Administrative Court. In October of 2018 this case was denied and again Pink Armenia appealed to the Court of Appeals.
LGBT Christian Forum
On November 15-18 2018, Yerevan was supposed to host the forum of Eastern European and Central Asian LGBT Christians whose coordinator was New Generation Humanitarian NGO. About 40 people from Armenia and abroad were to attend the event.
However, as a result of the threats from anti-LGBT groups, religious, political and public figures, the state caved in.
The police announced that holding the forum is inexpedient. Thus, another step was taken away from democracy and the right to hold peaceful assembly was violated.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s Speech
After the violence against LGBT people and the many speculations of the topic, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan eventually touched upon the issue. In the NA, responding to MP of the Tsarukyan faction Gevorg Petrosyan, who earlier called on LGBT people to be expelled from Armenia, Pashinyan said that LGBT people’s question is a headache for them and hopes their government will not deal with this problem.
Though he started a story of an Armenian homosexual man living in France, who told him that he had barely escaped from Armenia and was not going back, he did not build on the continuation of the speech, but in the context of the human rights and the dignity of any citizen of Armenia, but on avoiding the problem.
Anti-LGBT Draft Laws
Former Vice-Speaker of the National Assembly Eduard Sharmazanov together with several Republican Party MPs initiated the amendment to the Law on the Protection of the Rights of the Children, according to which “homosexual propaganda” should be banned. However, the government did not approve the project. Later, Sharmazanov continued to manipulate LGBT issues and his campaign for the Parliamentary election was based on LGBT people and based on hatred. The same was his party, the RPA.
MP Tigran Urikhanyan, a member of the Tsarukyan faction tried something similar. He presented a draft law to ban same-sex marriages in Armenia, which was also rejected by the government.
Transgender persons name change
One of the triumphs of this year was that two transgender individuals changed their names without requiring documents from a psychologist to prove the fact that they were transgender.
“Right to Right” NGO informs that the agency of civil status acts’ registration of Ministry of justice of RA didn’t require a psychological conclusion to change the name of transgender people.
“Listen to Me” documentary was released
Nevertheless, during the year, LGBT people’s viewpoints were absent from general discussions, but at the end of the year, “Listen to me: Untold Stories Beyond Hatred” documentary was released. We invite all who spread hate towards LGBT people to watch the film, listen to LGBT people so that they finally have a little idea of LGBT issues.