“The Fight Against Homophobia. Obstacles and Challenges”
Ninety percent of the Armenian population thinks that the rights of homosexuals should be limited. Moreover, they agree that homosexuality is forbidden by law.

Nvard Margaryan, President of Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO, presented this information during the discussion at Media Center on “The Fight Against Homophobia. Obstacles and Challenges”. Mamikon Hovsepyan, Executive Director of Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO, said that according to ILGA-Europe annual report, Armenia is on the third place, after Russia and Azerbaijan, in terms of protection of LGBT people’s rights.

The organization conducted a research related to the problems of LGBT community in November-December 2015 in the framework of which 1017 interviews were conducted, 34% in Yerevan and 66% in 10 regions of Armenia.  “The main objective of the research was to study the society’s treatment towards LGBT community in Armenia. The aim of the quantitative research was to analyze the impact of social, cultural and political factors on the creation of homophobe and transphobe atmosphere. The sources providing professional information about LGBT people are important, as they are the developers of the science (239).

It is noteworthy that 20.6% of the respondents, that is, every fifth is inclined to think that scientists do not have a clear answer about the formation of sexual orientation.

Only one out of every 12 of the respondents knows LGBT representative. Only 86 (9%) of more than a thousand respondents said that knew LGBT person/people.

The respondents are not only against the protection of LGBT people’s rights but, moreover, 90% agree with the idea that the homosexuality must be prohibited by law,” Margaryan said.

In spite of the data, she said that there is some progress compared to the situation five years ago. “Ten years ago people did not believe that LGBT representatives can live in
Armenia, now the situation has changed. The visibility of the community has increased and it brought positive changes. As the researches show, people who live in cities, have high education are more tolerant towards the issues of LGBT community, in particular young women,” the speaker said.   

Mamikon Hovsepyan said that this issue is much speculated by the authorities. “During constitutional amendments they included a provision about marriage between a man and a woman. Even if there was no such an article, there will not be a marriage of homosexuals in Armenia as the situation is different here. But the Government used it for manipulation, for their interests.”

As a reply to the question how large LGBT community is in Armenia, Mamikon Hovsepyan could not say concrete numbers as a lot of people are frightened of the social tensions and conceal their orientations, get married and make heterosexual families.

“For example, there are gays who get married with women because of the tensions. Here we have women’s violation as women live in a lie in this case. If people have a chance to live their lives, there will not be such problems and other members of the society will not suffer either,” Hovsepyan said and added that according to him there are more than 100 thousand LGBT people in Armenia.

Heghine Babayan, Programs coordinator of Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO, said. “People often think that there are no LGBT people in Armenia but in reality we do not see them as we do not allow them to raise their issues.”

Babayan said that for the Day of the Fight against Homophobia (May 17) the organisation initiated a project in the framework of which LGBT people send their stories.

“During several days more than 100 letters were received,” the speaker said and read some parts of that letters. Heghine Babayan called for tolerance towards LGBT community and respect the expression of their free will and rights.

Arevik Sahakyan, Program coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to areviksahakyan@mail.ru

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