December 1, 2016

Hand up for #HIVPrevention

More than 30 years December 1st is known as the World AIDS Day. In the lead-up to World AIDS Day 2016, the hands up for #HIVprevention campaign will explore different aspects of HIV prevention and how they relate to specific groups of people, such as adolescent girls and young women, key populations and people living with HIV.

To become a part of the world campaign, UNAIDS is asking people around the world to submit:
  • A photograph of a word or short phrase written on the palm of their hand summarizing what we need to strengthen HIV prevention efforts, for example more condoms, empowerment, inclusion, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), rights for women and girls; and/or
  • A short video message (maximum 30 seconds) explaining what in their view needs to be done to reduce new HIV infections in their community. 
In their website, UNAIDS also provides resources, templates for posters and banners, as well as ready materials that civil society, individual and people who care, to use in their websites and on social media.

Lena Nanushyan
What does #HIVprevention mean 4 you? Civil Society activists working on HIV, AIDS and human rights issues in Armenia gave various answers to that question: mostly they mentioned dignity, justice, access to anti-retroviral treatment treatment, HIV testing, access to Opiate Substitution Treatment, human rights protection of most at risk population, care and support.

Lena Nanushyan, National Programme Office, UNAIDS Armenia said: "For me it is #HIVtesting. Testing will prevent deaths & new cases. Hands up for #HIVprevention!"

"Now is the time to come together again and finish what we started. Let us seize this opportunity and join the fast-track towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030." Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director.

April 26, 2016

PINK Armenia Joins the Community, Rights, Gender (CRG) Working Group

Adjacent to the Country Coordination Mechanism for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (CCM) of the Republic of Armenia, a new working group has been formed—“Community, Rights, Gender” (CRG). PINK Armenia was invited to be a part of the working group.

The group aims to ensure community involvement in decision-making processes and to ensure the inclusion of human rights protection and gender equality within CCM. One of its main objectives is the monitoring and analysis of human rights violation cases among people who use drugs, sex workers, men who have sex with men and people living with certain infections, as well as ensuring the accessibility of medical assistance within the spheres of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.

April 25, 2016

Lips of Pride

HAYP Pop Up Gallery, a moving art collective that curates and sets up art exhibitions across Armenia, dedicated its most recent gallery, “Lips of Pride,” to women artists, women’s bodies and sexualities, and societal perceptions of shame in Armenia, from April 8-18, 2015. “Lips of Pride” aimed to begin a conversation on a taboo topic, and to give a voice to those who are often silenced by shame.

For 10 days the gallery hosted several events that facilitated that conversation, including a panel discussion on “Shame & Sexuality” with Ani Jilozyan from Women's Support Center, sexologist Dr. Narine Nersisyan, and PINK Armenia psychologist Lilit Avetisyan, who talked about how speech affects our perspectives on sexuality, the role that shame plays in our lives and the affects of shame on LGBT people. Lilit’s final message for participants of the discussion was that we should never be ashamed of our sexualities, which is an indivisible part of who we are. PINK’s engagement in the exhibit events continued with the workshop “Understanding Human Sexuality,” which covered personal experiences and a general understanding of the different dimensions of sexuality.

March 20, 2016

PINK Armenia and staff members continue receiving threats

PINK continues documenting the hate speech and messages calling for hate to PINK’s president Nvard Margaryan, NGO members, and to the PINK Armenia Facebook page. The frequency of such messages has increased especially after Nvard Margaryan’s participation in a TV show, “Kisabac Lusamutner (Half-open Windows)”, where a psychologist announced that she cures homosexuality and a lawyer threatened to burn gay people. Although a complaint was submitted to the Ethics Committee of the Chamber of Advocates in Armenia, and the Chamber of Advocates applied a disciplinary proceeding against the lawyer, in the letter The Chamber of Advocates mentioned how the natural family can only be a union between a man and a women according Armenia’s “amended” Constitution. PINK is now documenting all the messages containing hate speech, as all the previous complaints to the General Prosecutor’s Office on hate speech messages and comments were largely ignored or found not to have a basis for criminal proceedings.

March 19, 2016

Administrative Hearing of a Medical Center for Improper Treatment of a Transgender Person

PINK filed a complaint with the Ministry of Health about the conduct of the medical professionals, after a victim of hate crime in Yerevan (LGBT Activists Targeted in Hate Crime, then Mocked by Hospital Staff) admitted themselves to the N1 hospital in Yerevan, and faced discrimination, being told by medical professionals, “Come, let’s do a blood test on you. Let’s see if you have a deviance”.

An administrative proceeding has been filed with the health inspection department of the Ministry of Health against irreverent treatment and improper medical service provided by the personnel of the “First medical center ‘Heratsi’”. The personnel of the medical center conducted themselves unprofessionally and treated the patient seeking treatment with disrespect, which was related to the appearance and gender identity of the victim. During the administrative hearing, the representatives of the health inspection department rejected the fact that the personnel of medical center had behaved inappropriately, clarifying that the definition of irreverent and improper treatment is not determined by sub legislative acts. They justified the behavior of the medical personnel, saying that the blood analysis is obligatory for everyone who has been beaten.

The personnel of the medical center declared that they have watched the video of security cameras and that there was no such treatment on the part of the medical center’s personnel. But after a motion to examine the video during the hearing and to attach it to the case materials, they answered that the video had been self-deleted.

On March 25 Ministry of Health informed that the case is suspended due to the absence of violation.

March 18, 2016

“Women are different”: Celebration of LGBT-inclusive diversity as Armenia’s Feminist Platform marks International Women’s Day in Yerevan

“Women are different” was the main slogan Armenia’s Feminist Platform group chose to mark International Women’s Day on March 8. Everyone was invited to join a planned march on that day, regardless of age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, whether they were locals or foreigners, or from villages or cities, all to “celebrate different ways of being a woman”.

Posters during march read: “women are different”, “lesbian”, “bisexual”, “transgender”, “scientist”, “virgin”, “sex worker”, “woman living with HIV”, “cleaner”, “entrepreneur”, “mother”, “single mother”, “model”, “soldier”, “not married”, “footballer / weightlifter”, “woman with disability” and more. Most passersbys reacted positively to the march and showed interest in what they heard and read. Some people, however, mostly young males, were visibly aggravated by the march and even stopped to inform the marchers that such public actions “are shameful and ugly phenomena.”

Read a more detailed article on the march by Unzipped: Gay Armenia.

March 17, 2016

Support Group of LGBT People Living with HIV

In recognition of Zero Discrimination Day, which the United Nations celebrates on March 1, a support group meeting of LGBT people living with HIV took place at PINK. The meeting, which was attended by 15 people, and aimed to unite LGBT people living with HIV and allies to discuss HIV-related issues, to share experiences and support each other. This was the first event of its type, as LGBT people living with HIV prefer not to speak about their status to avoid double discrimination.

During the meeting, allies shared their experience on when they first met people living with HIV, and HIV positive people told their stories and the challenges they face both from the larger public and the LGBT community. Strategies were discussed on how to eliminate the discrimination and stigma towards people living with HIV within LGBT community, which will only become possible through joint efforts and support.

February 24, 2016

You can talk to me now, I am gay

On February 24, a press conference took place at Yerevan’s Media Center ( on “Violence against Sexual Minorities: The Approaches of Law Enforcement and Healthcare System”, which was live streamed via YouTube. The speakers of the press conference were Mamikon Hovsepyan, Executive Director of PINK Armenia, Sergey Gabrielyan and Artur Makaryan of New Generation Humanitarian NGO, and Sona Harutyunyan, lecturer at the Medical Psychology Department of Yerevan State Medical University. The recent homophobic attack on LGBT activists, as well as other matters regarding discrimination and hatred towards LGBTQ people was discussed during the press conference. A journalist from asked a question on whether it would be admissible to see homosexual people during the day walking in the streets if anti-discrimination legislation is passed in Armenia. Hovsepyan in turn asked the journalist if she sees homosexuals during the day. The journalist said yes, and that it was “not normal” to her. In response to her statement, Hovsepyan asked if it was “normal” for the journalist to be talking to him, to which she said, “Yes.” “I am homosexual,” said Mamikon in response, coming out publicly in front of journalists and cameras.

February 23, 2016

A Psychologist Publicly Stating She 'Cures' Homosexuality; A Lawyer Who Calls To Burn Gays

On the most recent episode of «Կիսաբաց լուսամուտներ» (kisabac lusamutner / Half Opened Windows), the most popular Armenian talk show, a gay man was brought on the air together with his mother to talk about the discrimination he faces in finding a job, based on his sexual orientation and gender identity / expression. President of PINK Armenia, Nvard Margaryan, and an LGBT-friendly doctor, Vardan Hambardzumyan, were asked to take part in a show as experts. During the show, the guest faced inhumane and unprofessional attitudes from other invited experts (a psychologist, sexologist, lawyer and an artist). During the TV show, sexologist Vrezh Shahramanyan talked about “ego-dystonic homosexuality”—a diagnosis no longer recognized in the DSM— while artist Sargis Mikayelyan made homophobic jokes and statements. Psychologist Mariam Mehrabyan, a co-founder of “Zhest” Personal Development Centre, PhD of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor, said that she can treat/cure the guest’s homosexuality, and ensured that she’s experienced in it. Lawyer Garik Galikyan, who is a member of the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia and founder of Galikyan law office in Yerevan and its branch in the Netherlands, was made anxious by Hambardzumyan’s and Margaryan’s responses to a hypothesis brought by him that conflicted with the statements made by all other experts present. “Whenever I see them [LGBT people], I will smash them, trample them, and yes – they must be burnt…” Galikyan said.

In Armenia, there is no license psychologists are required to obtain in order to practice, and thus no license to be taken away in cases such as this, so PINK has initiated a letter to Ministry of Health to understand the Ministry’s standpoint on this matter. We call on psychological associations from around the world to make statements and voice their concerns on this matter.

New Generation Humanitarian NGO, as well as PINK Armenia, together with Anti-Discrimination Coalition has initiated a complaint against Galikyan to the Ethics Committee of the Chamber of Advocates in Armenia.

We’ll keep our partners updated on the proceedings of the case.

February 22, 2016

Trainings, Queer Talks and Discussions on Transgender Issues

In February, PINK Armenia conducted trainings on Social Justice with 32 attendees, and hosted several events for LGBTQ people. During the newly initiated Queer Talk series, participants form their own agenda for discussions. “Queer identity” and the first Armenian LGBT novel by Armen Ohanyan-Mommyland:Flag, about three friends: Nar, a transvestite who has been beaten and kicked out of his home for wearing women’s clothing; Sam and Ando, gay men whose romance ends with Sam’s death in the army, were discussed in February. During a discussion on transgender issues, trans people, together with their fellow LGBQ friends, discussed the challenges and discrimination they face both from the wider society and the LGBQ community. Overall, 58 LGBTQ people took part in events organized in February.

LGBT Activists Targeted in Hate Crime, then Mocked by Hospital Staff

On February 15, 2016, 3 unidentified persons attacked 5 LGBT activists in central Yerevan by physically assaulting them. The assailants cursed and began beating one of the activists, and when the victim’s friends rushed to help, they too were subjected to beatings. The attackers mocked the physical appearance of the first victim, and used homophobic slurs. Two of the victims are staff members of PINK Armenia. The victims filed a report on the attack with the police shortly afterward. The following day, when the first victim admitted himself to the N1 hospital in Yerevan, he once again faced discrimination, being told by medical professionals, “Come, let’s do a blood test on you. Let’s see if you have a deviance.” PINK has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Health about the conduct of the medical professionals. 

PINK Armenia thanks all for the supportive statements following the attack, and will keep you updated on the investigation process.

February 21, 2016

The Biggest LGBTQ Gathering in Armenia Featuring a Drag Show

Taking into consideration requests from many LGBTQ community members, PINK organized a safe space for LGBTQ people to come together, express themselves openly and enjoy an exciting Drag Show. The event was attended by about 250 LGBTQ people and allies, which made it the biggest gathering in Armenia so far. The event was also significant because of the considerable number of transgender people in attendance.  Rejoicing, however, is almost always interrupted with the next instances of injustice and violence when it comes to LGBTQ people in Armenia, as soon following the celebration an attack took place on LGBT activists in Yerevan.