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Exceptional verdict․ The offender was found guilty of crimes against a gay man

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the issue of sexual violence in various public spheres. In Armenia, not only heterosexual people are sexually abused, but also LGBT people, both inside and outside the LGBT community. 

Every year, various crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, often involving violence, are recorded by ‘‘Pink’’ human rights defender NGO. 

In 2019, a gay man, the victim of the case, got acquainted with another man through the Internet, after which they agreed to meet. When they met, հe noticed that the driver of the car approaching him was not the same person he had agreed to meet with. The driver pointed a pistol at the victim and demanded that he gets into the car. 

In the car, the offender hit the victim several times in the face with his hands, demanded that the victim empties his pockets, then stole from him all the money he had. The perpetrator threatened to tell the victim’s relatives about his sexual orientation. During the process, he repeatedly hit the victim and uttered insults concerning his sexuality. He extorted money from the victim, threatening him that otherwise, he would reveal the victim’s sexual orientation to his relatives. The perpetrator also stated that he wanted to “discipline” him and take him to the police station for his “homosexual behavior”, where all the police officers would sexually and physically abuse him. The perpetrator violently forced the victim to have sexual intercourse, after which he was allowed to leave. A criminal case was initiated. 

The procedure of this criminal case lasted for about three years. 

Pink’s lawyer Luiza Vardanyan represented the victim in this case. During the trial, she filed a motion to apply to the Constitutional Court with a demand to declare Article 63 of the RA Criminal Code unconstitutional․ The Article envisages the aggravating factors enhancing the punishment and responsibility․ The reason for declaring it unconstitutional is that this article envisages hate crimes only on the grounds of national, racial, or religious hatred, however, sexual orientation or gender identity are not considered as ones. The court rejected this motion. 

In 2022, a verdict was announced, according to which the offender was found guilty of all the crimes he had committed and sentenced to 7 years and 6 months imprisonment. The court ruled that the perpetrator had prior knowledge of the victim’s sexual orientation, describing homosexuality as a “non-traditional sexual orientation”․ 

It should be noted that this is the first case conducted by Pink in recent years, when a guilty verdict is announced against the criminal and he is found guilty of committing a crime against a gay person. It is true that the court did not record those crimes as committed with the motive of hatred towards the person’s sexual orientation, moreover, discriminatory expressions were used by the court, but, nevertheless, such verdict is a progress in law enforcement practice and is one of Pink’s achievements as an LGBT organization. 

We hope that this decision will set a precedent and promote a fair trial for other cases concerning LGBT people. At the same time, we firmly believe that only such decisions and verdicts can lead to the elimination of the atmosphere of impunity among criminals.