After a serious attack against LGBTQ activists and their friends in the South of Armenia in the evening of August 3, RFSL, the Swedish Federation for LGBT rights, is calling for swift and strong reactions by the authorities to ensure the protection of the LGBTQ community and LGBT rights defenders in Shurnoukh and Armenia at large.
It was around eight p.m when more than 30 villagers came to the home of an LGBTQ activist in Syunik village of Shurnoukh, where a group of 9 persons, amongst them several LGBTQ activists, had gathered. The villagers started to first threaten the activists and then physically assault them. The activists and their friends managed to get away from the house and were eventually evacuated to the nearest city by the police that finally arrived to the scene with an hour’s delay. By that time, however, 2 of the activists had received serious injuries and were taken to the hospital, while 4 of the others had to be treated for minor physical injuries. According to an official statement, the Police has launched an investigation and detained a number of individuals for questioning.
– It is of utmost importance that the attack is properly investigates and that the perpetrators are held to account, says Marie Månson, Director of International programs at RFSL. The threats that were directed at the activists were of a nature than clearly indicates that the attack had homo-phobic motives.
The situation for LGBTQ persons in Armenia is difficult with widespread discrimination facing the community and lack of political will to take action against increasing homo/bi/transphobia in the society. This also leads to Armenia having very weak legal protections for LGBTQ individuals. For instance, a new discrimination law is being processed by the Parliament, however it does not explicitly include sexual orientation or gender identity as prohibited grounds for discrimination. In addition, there is no legislation regulating the prevention and reaction to hate crimes.
RFSL calls on Armenian authorities to:
• thoroughly investigate the violent attack against the members of the LGBTQ community and their allies on August 3rd and take a clear position against hate crimes and intolerance in general;
• include relevant definitions and measures regulating prevention and investigation of hate crimes in the criminal code of Armenia;
• ensure the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the draft law on elimination of all forms of discrimination.
We call on our international partners, intergovernmental organizations and diplomatic missions to:
• condemn the violence against LGBTQ people in Armenia;
• continue the dialogue with Armenian government on making state policies more inclusive of LGBTQ people, but also taking practical steps to ensure the safety of Armenian citizens regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity.