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A case of domestic violence in Yerevan

LGBT people in Armenia continue to be subjected to violence in various areas of public life, including their families, educational institutions, workplaces, and even on the street. Although it is believed that family members should be more tolerant of their LGBT children, the number of domestic violence cases is rising, as is the number of incidents in other social areas.

Cases of violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are regularly documented by Pink human rights defender NGO. The recent case of domestic violence in Yerevan is no exception, with severe consequences for the victim.

On June 9, 2022, in Yerevan’s English Park, a father assaulted his daughter, hitting her repeatedly in the face and neck, causing her bodily injuries and pain, and shouting insults of sexual nature. The victim, S.M., applied to the Central Police Department and reported on the incident on June 10, 2022. She also stated that she had been subjected to domestic violence by her father and mother for many years due to her sexual orientation.

The protection of the victim’s interests was taken over by Pink human rights defender organization. The organization’s lawyer accompanied the victim to the police station, where she wrote a statement about the crime.

On June 20, 2022, a criminal case was filed at the Main Police Department under Articles 118 and 137.1 of the RA Criminal Code. It is noteworthy that the victim received the decision to initiate a criminal case only after filing a complaint to the RA General Prosecutor’s Office on July 25, 2022, when a month had already passed after the crime. However, this is a criminal procedural violation since the decision should have been sent to the victim immediately after filing a criminal case.

Surprisingly, the decision to file a criminal case does not indicate that the victim was subjected to domestic violence by her father and mother. The criminal case was initiated not on the fact of domestic violence but on articles providing liability for beating and causing grievous bodily harm. The investigator filed the criminal case under the lightest articles to release the offenders, the father and the mother, from criminal liability based on the expiration of time limitations for criminal liability.

The case is under investigation. After the preliminary investigation, when the case was transferred to the Investigative Department of the Center, the investigator did not call the victim for interrogation and did not recognize her as a victim. In the end, it was unclear to the victim what kind of investigation was underway.

It is not the first time that the investigating authority has avoided mentioning the primary motive for the violence, namely the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim, and instead presents the incident in the light of mild circumstances. On the other hand, it is not taken into account that the perpetrator is a member of the victim’s family and that the act is essentially domestic violence with dangerous and vicious consequences. This leads to criminal procedural violations and, of course, incomprehensive, improper, unfair, and impartial investigation of criminal cases based on SOGI by the investigative authorities.

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