Human Rights Watch international NGO published its 2020 World Annual Report. It’s an annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in 90 countries and territories worldwide. The report reflects extensive investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2019, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country.

According to the report, the snap parliamentary elections in December 2018 found genuinely competitive and in line with international standards by international observers. The report noted that having secured a parliamentary majority, the government embarked on an ambitious reform agenda, including tackling corruption and reforming the economic and justice sectors.

However, the report noted that human rights issues still exist in Armenia. Particularly, it was touched upon the cases related to past violence and excessive use of force by law enforcement and their investigations, cases related to discrimination and segregation of people with disabilities, cases of domestic violence, violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, etc.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI)

According to the Human Rights Watch report, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people often face harassment, discrimination, and violence in Armenia. The criminal code does not recognize homophobia and transphobia as aggravating criminal circumstances. The report noted that discussions around the ratification of the Istanbul Convention descended to hateful and derogatory speech by some public officials against LGBT people, suggesting that the convention has a hidden agenda of “LGBT propaganda” and legitimizing same-sex marriage.

The report states that fear of discrimination and public disclosure of their sexual orientation prevent many LGBT people from reporting crimes. Human Rights Watch points out that “Pink” human rights defender NGO documented at least 17 incidents of physical attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity from January through August 2019.

The report touched upon several public cases of violence, discrimination, hate speech towards LGBT people in Armenia.  Particularly, the cases related to a gay activist, who was assaulted and beaten on a Yerevan street; a backlash followed a transgender activist’s address, including hate speech and death threats directed at her, after a parliamentary hearing on human rights; officers at a military draft board subjected a queer activist to abuse and discrimination, using homophobic slurs.

The government-proposed bill on equality, intended as comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, does not include sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for protection from discrimination. In a September report, the OSCE recommended the government include sexual orientation and gender identity as additional protected categories.