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Ombudsman’s annual report 2018 from the point of view of discrimination on the basis of SOGI

The Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia has published the annual report of 2018, which also highlighted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, as well as discrimination against people living with HIV.

The report notes that, as a result of the legislation study, the problem that the legislation does not contain such regulations and mechanisms to help a person to implement his / her rights and, in case of breach, rehabilitate them, was raised. Also legal acts, which have separate subject of regulation, do not contain clauses banning discrimination, even though the prohibition of discrimination is legally constituted. The lack of comprehensive legislation on equality and anti-discrimination, also effective mechanisms for fighting against discrimination and revealing discriminatory cases makes the fight against violations in the field complicated.

The Human Rights Defender has stated that as a result of a number of legislative incompletements, it is impossible to fight against all forms of discrimination fully. There is a situation in Armenia that hate crimes coupled with discrimination on the basis of SOGI do not affect the definition of the crime and the size of the punishment.

The Ombudsman’s report also states that there are cases of restriction of the right to health of patients as a result of discrimination in practice. In 2018 complaints of discriminatory and disrespectful attitude by the medical staff towards people living with HIV were raised in applications addressed to the RA Human Rights Defender. The Ombudsman notes that it is necessary to elaborate relevant guidelines on the work of health care providers with certain groups, including people living with HIV, and increase the number of relevant courses (diploma and post-graduate), to raise the awareness of healthcare providers about ways and means of spreading various diseases.

It is worth noting that despite the fact that there is mentioned about the discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the annual report of 2018, the reference is not sufficiently comprehensive and does not reflect the full picture of discrimination on that basis in Armenia and the danger of its negative consequences. In addition, the report does not include discrimination on the basis of gender identity, does not assess the consequences of gaps concerned discrimination on that basis in the legislation․

We think that in the light of public’s common negative attitude toward LGBT people and the calls for hatred towards them, which are recorded in the reports and other publications of various human rights organizations operating in Armenia, it is necessary to emphasize the importance and to point out the problems in the field more specifically.