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“Iravunq” newspaper, LGBT forum, attack on transgender people in HRW report

People continue to face discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, harassment, and physical violence in Armenia, according to Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) annual report for 2015.

“The government’s proposed constitutional changes rendered same-sex marriage illegal in Armenia, but the change was not considered to be a form of hate speech or discrimination against LGBT people. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not included in anti-discrimination or hate speech laws, limiting legal recourse for many crimes against LGBT people,” the report says(No anti-discrimination or hate speech laws are currently in place in Armenia, Editor).

HRW also referred to the LGBT forum held on October 17-18 in its report. “The LGBT rights group PINK Armenia held the first Armenian forum to discuss problems faced by LGBT people. An article about the event and a photograph of participants posted on PINK Armenia’s website and re-posted by various media outlets, received a slew of homophobic comments and threats in social media, including calls to burn and kill the forum participants. PINK Armenia filed a complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the threats and had not received a response at time of writing.”

The Investigation Committee later informed PINK Armenia that a criminal case could not be filed due to lack of evidence.

Referring to a 2015 report by PINK Armenia on an attack on transgender people, the report says: “Five men attacked two transgender sex workers in a Yerevan park in August, causing serious injuries, including brain trauma. The victims attempted to seek assistance from security officers, who refused to help them. The case was under investigation at time of writing”.

A criminal case was opened following the attack.

In regards to the case against Iravunk newspaper, the report says: “In April, an appeals court rejected the appeal by 16 plaintiffs whose lawsuits against the Iravunq newspaper were dismissed by a court in October 2014. Iravunq had published several online articles calling for LGBT people and activists to be excluded from public life and for their families to shun them. One article included a ‘blacklist’ of 60 such people, with links to their social media sites. The newspaper refused to publish a retraction.”

In 2015 the Court of Appeal also rejected 16 plaintiffs’ complaints. The case has been sent to the European Court of Human Rights.