June 23, 2011

Council of Europe launched its first and the comprehensive European study on the human rights situation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people to date

Today, the Council of Europe launched its social-legal report on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the first ever report covering all 47 member states of the Council of Europe on a range of human rights issues that are pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people.

ILGA-Europe warmly welcomes this significant report which not only maps the legal situation but also highlights the social attitudes and opinions about LGBT people: while there is certain progress in some countries, others continue discrimination and violation of basic human rights of LGBT people.

When it comes to social attitudes, the report clearly demonstrates that LGBT people continue to be subjected to homophobia and transphobia in their everyday lives in all Council of Europe member states and those attitudes are being based on ‘outdated and incorrect information’ about sexual orientation, gender identity and gender .

The report contains a number of specific recommendations to the Council of Europe member states on how to end discrimination and ensure full equality for LGBT people. It also provides a number of recommendations on non-legislative measures such as state education programmes aiming to increase awareness and understanding of various sexual orientations and gender identities and therefore promote improvement of the social attitudes based on facts and objective information.

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:
“This is a very important document which looks at the issues of equality and human rights of LGBT people from different angles and provides clear recommendations and suggestions to the Council of Europe member states. There is clear and urgent need to improve legislation to achieve full equality and respect for human rights. The legislation also needs to be supported by proper implementation plans and mechanisms to give its full and practical meaning. The report also looks at the issues of political will, social attitudes and current European consensus and again, provides a range of specific suggestions how the situation can be improved.

We hope that this report along with the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers Recommendations adopted in March and a number of the judgements by the European Court of Human Rights, will provide European countries with a solid road map towards full equality and respect of LGBT people’s human rights. We believe there is sufficient European consensus and legal foundation for such improvement, all is required to fill the existing gaps is a political will of the national governments to bring their countries in line with the expected European standard.”

June 21, 2011

They leave behind their lives to crawl toward the future

Where have I come from? Where shall I go? Where is the place you await me to come to? Or isn't there anybody waiting for me?

People around the world leave their motherland, leave the places where they grew up and used to live. They leave it for professional or personal reasons in some cases but the main factors can be war, hate, discrimination, nazism, intolerance, frustration, stress, ignorance, aggression. The main thought which remains in your mind is to run away, to disappear and to save your soul... or to stay and to struggle and even to die.
World, you cut and paste, you drag and drop refugees all around you!
Anahit Hayrapetyan
One may become a refugee, because he can’t live on the land which was occupied after a war or a genocide.
The other one flees, because political views and activism can cause a danger.
And you are a refugee now, because your characteristic features are not acceptable for the compatriots.

Hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees crossed the border and never came back, they went to find their freedom under the shadows of western democracy that Armenia could never insure. Among them were those whose feelings and emotions were not accepted by the majority, their sexual orientation and gender identity were not considered as traditional, their life became endangered in their own homeland, and peace was somewhere far away. Those people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer; those people are considered as strangers on their own land.
The refugees that flee, they leave behind their lives to crawl toward the future.
Anahit Hayrapetyan
photo by Karen Mirzoyan, 2008
(photo is cropped)
When you left me alone to find your freedom, you took my heart with you, you put it in your baggage next to your scarfs and shirts, you left and never came back to see me, you cried but never showed your tears, you just gave me the last kiss to live with and I feel it on my lips even today. Then we realized that happiness was not here and not there, it was with us when we were together. You are a refugee in a foreign society but I feel as a refugee even in my own land, because they always say: “This is not your country”. Neither here nor there, where do I belong and where do you belong?

Iranians escape to Armenia, Armenians escape to Russia, Russians escape to Europe and it goes on and on.

But we are here we are queer and this is our world, too!

Director: George Barbakadze
Writers: George Barbakadze, Fleurtasha Cooper

June 16, 2011

Human Rights. Defender’s platform. Civil Society

On 3-4 June 2011 Office of the Human Rights Defender of the Republic of Armenia (HRDO) convened already third forum in series of forums entitled “Human Rights. Defender’s Platform”. This time forum entitled “Civil Society” was dedicated to the partnership with civil society organizations and brought together 130 participants from more than 85 human rights NGOs, international organizations, attorneys and media. Forum was supported by the European Union, World Vision Armenia and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

The aim of the “Civil Society” Forum was to strengthen cooperation and promote active dialogue between the Office of the Human Rights Defender and leading human rights NGOs specialized in the issues of minorities, refugees, children, disabled people, women, military servicemen, rights of persons in detentions and penitentiaries, environmental rights, rights of the persons suffered from violence and torture as well as NGOs promoting the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression.

Followers of @pinkarmenia twitter had possibility to read live tweets of our representative, Mamikon Hovsepyan, who used #CSforum and #HRArmenia as hashtag for those tweets. Below you can read the most important ones.

Day one, July 3

starting the "Civil Society" forum in Tsaghkadzor, organized by Armenian Ombudsman

the Ombudsman takes the floor, presenting his welcome speech

Karen Andreasyan, Ombudsman, mentioned that they specifies 11 spheres to work with

Karen Andreasyan finalized his speech, asking for civil society's support for Ombudsman further work

Raul de Luccenberger, EU representative told that we should be proud to have such an important institution as Ombudsman office in Armenia

once students asked to EU representative, What is the way for Armenia to become an EU member, he answered "To believe"

OSCE will support Ombudsman office for its strengthening and cooperation with human rights defender organizations

representative of National Security Council presenting their strategic plan to protect human rights in Armenia

during the private conversation with Mamikon Hovsepyan, the National Security Council representative denied that Baghdasaryan is homophobe

now Civil Society representatives are presenting human rights violations in 11 spheres mentioned by Ombudsman

FYI: LGBT situation won't be presented, PINK was informed few days ago when the agenda was ready and no changes where available

changes: Ombudsman will sign a separate memorandum with PINK, before it was decided to have with national minorities

organizational side of the forum is a bit weak, but to compare with previous, this ombudsman is better

court, judges, police, juridical institutes... we need changes in this sphere, we need to monitor their work and demand JUSTICE

gender roles: women's participation in decision making, in parliament, in government and high levels is weak

Susanna Vardanyan from Women's Rights Center presenting 3 main types of violence against women: physical, psychological, sexual

S. Vardanyan also talks about the case of Zaruhi Petrosyan, CSVW coalition's work and CS initiatives about the changes of law

mass media representative where beaten, are being beaten and will be beaten until we dont have strong law for freedom of speech

A. Musheghyan: After car accident I couldn't walk anymore, i sent back home from hospital and couldn't reach the 5th floor

Musheghyan: If I become a parliamentarian how can I go to work, they have no conditions for handicapped people

there are 183000 handicapped people in Armenia and 100.000 of them are able to work but they don't work

Ombudsman left the room after the official part of the meeting, some participants call it lack of respect toward civil society

PINK: everybody at this forum talks about respect, tolerance and cooperation but do they all respect others and their rights? Not sure

Most of the speakers didn't understand that it is not an NGO presentation but situation presentation of their sphere

Artak Kirakosyan, CSI, asked the vise-president of Collaboration for Democracy, Mikayel Baghdasaryan to leave the forum as he violated women

As A.Kirakosyan mentioned, Mikayel Baghdasaryan, has beaten his female colleague & more

the last speaker, the main hate speech promoter Karine Danielyan

homophobe Karine Danielyan about human rights. Funny

Karine Danielyan is talking about her sphere, ecology. In other meetings she forgets about her responsibilities, promoting hate

 Day two, July 4

starting discussions with the working groups, felt ignorance & dislike from the side of national minorities toward LGBT issues

human rights defenders of national minorities do not want to see Muslim women with covered head in Armenia

they said national minorities should leave accepting Armenian rules but the still speak about xenophobia

national minorities put their problems next to general problems in Armenia and do not talk about nazism and racism

representative of Jewish minorities said that National Security Council should take care of LGBT issues in Armenia

national minorities want to raise the law of hate speech which was suggested Mamikon Hovsepyan

hardly but finally representatives of national minorities see their problems & in some cases put LGBT rights next to it

Yezidi representative demands places at national assembly, other national minority representative don't care about it

Mamikon asked the representatives of national minorities to accept diversity and respect all kind of human rights

working groups finalized discussions, presentation will be prepared and introduced to the Ombudsman and participants

K. Andreasyan: "There are many other human rights organizations in Armenia but we trust those who are here now"

1. human rights protection in armed forces

2. judicial rights: including issues of fair trials and justice

3. women's rights: women's involvement in politics, women's role in social advertisements, violence against women

4. freedom of speech: including involvement of NGOs in the work regarding freedom of speech

5. rights of handicapped people (people with fewer opportunities)

6. rights of people faced violence and torture: specified mainly in police stations, it was suggested to mention that National Security office is also violating people as in police stations

7. rights of people in prisons

8. children's rights: among other problems was mentioned violence, especially sexual abuse against children

9. Minorities: national, religious, sexual, though there was no representative from religious minorities

10. refugees

11. Environment

first time ever in official document Armenia will use Armenian word to refer LGBT issues

Environment group boycotts and will not sign memorandum, Hope it is not K. Danielyan's idea against LGBT rights protection

June 4, the first ever Armenian document with Armenian terms to protect the rights of LGBT people in Armenia

June 13, 2011

Historic memorandum between Armenia human rights Ombudsman and PINK Armenia on protection of LGBT rights

via Unzipped: Gay Armenia

Remember this date: 4 June 2011. On that very date, during Civil Society Forum in Tsaghkadzor, for the first time ever, Armenia human rights Ombudsman and PINK Armenia signed historic memorandum on collaboration in protection of LGBT rights. Another important milestone has been passed which could lead to the development of practical mechanisms and legal basis for human rights protection of LGBT people in Armenia. What is also extremely important, perhaps for the first time, acceptable Armenian terms to refer to gay/lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were used in the official document [նույնասեռական, երկսեռական, գենդերափոխ].
PINK Armenia (@pinkarmenia)
SIGNED!!! memorandum between PINK and Ombudsman to protect the rights of #LGBT people, historical moments of Armenia! #CSforum #HRArmenia

PINK Armenia (@pinkarmenia)
June 4, the first ever Armenian document with Armenian terms to protect the rights of #LGBT people in Armenia #CSforum #HRArmenia
Memorandum is signed for 6 years: 4 June 2011 till 1 February 2017.

read the full post here