On January 23, human rights situation in Armenia was observed during the 35th session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, based on reports submitted by the government and civil society. The government’s report did not address discrimination and hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the country.
Meanwhile, in the reports submitted by “Pink” human rights defender NGO, “Human Rights House Yerevan” human rights defender organization, Non- Discrimination and Equality Coalition, Women’s Resource Center NGO and the Open Society Foundations-Armenia has been raised worrisome data concerning discrimination against LGBT persons in various areas of public relations, hate crimes, and hate speech by officials. The analysis of the presented facts witnesses that human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are widespread in Armenia and need to be regulated at both legislative and policy levels.
It is worrying, however, that the report of the Armenian government did not include any information on the human rights situation of LGBT people. It should be noted that during the previous cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review, about a dozen recommendations on the adoption of effective mechanisms for prevention of discrimination against LGBT persons and the effective investigation of hate crimes have been presented to Armenia. During the four years between the cycles, the draft law on “Ensuring Equality Before the Law” has been elaborated, which does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected characteristics.
However, during this cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review, Armenia was presented with about twenty recommendations directed to the adoption of a law which provides for mechanisms of effective protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as, legislative mechanisms to regulate hate speech and hate crimes.
Responding to the recommendations, the RA Deputy Minister of Justice said that after the velvet revolution, the Government also fights against discrimination towards LGBT people, however, she did not indicate any clear steps.
It should be noted that the Universal Periodic Review is a unique platform that allows UN member states to study the human rights situation in member countries and make recommendations to each other. This mechanism is important in that it makes States accountable to one another and turns the existing issues of human rights protection subject of their discussion.
In the light of the above-mentioned, we urge the public authorities to take appropriate measures to comprehensively review the recommendations made to Armenia in the framework of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review and to effectively reflect them in the draft Law on “Ensuring Equality Before the Law” and the draft Criminal Code.
Pink human rights defender NGO will thus continue to be consistent towards the process of establishing human rights protection mechanisms for LGBT people in Armenia.