On May 17, as part of IDAHOBIT week, a roundtable discussion entitled ‘‘10 years of impunity’’ was organized by Pink Human Rights Defender NGO and partners. During the meeting, Pink’s annual report was presented, titled ‘‘The Human Rights Situation of LGBT People in Armenia During 2021.’’ This report summarizes the human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity recorded by the organization during 2021.
The meeting was attended by embassies of different countries in Armenia, international organizations, the representatives of the Office of the Ombudsperson and local civil society, government officials, as well as the organization’s beneficiaries, supporters, and victims of cases represented in Pink’s strategic litigations.
At the beginning of the discussion, the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia Kristine Grigoryan delivered a welcome speech, mentioning the importance of LGBT people’s human rights defense not only as a one-day topic discussion but also a matter requiring daily efforts. The Ombudsperson also referred to the need to adopt the “Law on Ensuring Equality” as a matter of priority, despite the RA Constitution prohibiting discrimination on any grounds. According to Kristine Grigoryan, if there is a problem of proper application of legislation in other areas of human rights, then in this area, the legislative field is generally open, which leads to human rights violations. In this regard, it was emphasized that much remains to be done in practice and in the direction of legislative regulation.
Kristine Grigoryan also stressed that the requirement of the principle of universal human rights is the equal protection of the rights of all since any issue or protection of the rights of any person cannot be subordinated to the rights of another person.
Representatives of international organizations expressed their concern around the human rights situation of LGBT people in Armenia, noting that the protection of human rights plays an integral role in their activities and that it is encouraged to take appropriate steps to protect the human rights of LGBT people. This issue was particularly discussed by Maria Papamichail, Political Officer and Human Rights Focal Point of the European Union Delegation to Armenia․ She stated: ‘‘What we promote is the right to the personal choice – without judging, without controlling, without deciding or guiding personal choices – this is what we promote. Armenia has chosen to follow the democratic path, and therefore, pluralism, inclusiveness and equity is the only way. In addition, one of the characteristics of democracy is considered responsibility. So, we are all responsible and we have a role to play. So, the state first must protect all the citizens; it is essential that the discrimination law is adopted.’’
The Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Sweden in Armenia, Anika Nordin Jayavardena also spoke of the following: ‘‘Democracy, human rights and gender equality are key issues in our strategy, and as part of that we support the Pink Human Rights Defender NGO. Discrimination against LGBTQI people, the violation of their rights and changing the discriminatory legislation is a critical issue for us.’’
Pink’s lawyer presented the case of the DIY pub as strategic litigation of the organization, noting that 2022 marks the tenth anniversary of the arson attack on the club. It is symbolic that immediately after the lawyer’s speech at the May 17 roundtable discussion, the European Court of Human Rights announced the verdict of the case. According to the verdict, Article 3 of the European Convention on the Prohibition of Torture: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” and Article 14 on the Prohibition of Discrimination: “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground…” It is now confirmed that the Republic of Armenia had allowed gross human rights violations.
Pink’s lawyer Hasmik Petrosyan announced the verdict, noting: “Today, the European Court of Human Rights announced the verdict in the case of the DIY bombing. Exactly ten years later, the European Court recognized a violation of human rights, particularly, an inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to non-discrimination… However, I think that in ten years, justice has somewhat been restored.”
The victims of the Shurnukh case were also present at the meeting. One of them expressed their concerns about the discrimination against LGBT people in Armenia and mentioned the grave consequences of this case in their lives.
The partner organizations also made speeches, presenting their activities in human rights protection.
[English subtitles are available]