STATEMENT ON CANCELLATION OF THE FORUM OF LGBT CHRISTIANS OF EASTERN EUROPE AND CENTRAL ASIA
Republic of Armenia
Yerevan November 6, 2018
Discrimination on different grounds has always been observed in the Republic of Armenia, however what happened in the country within the last few months was unprecedented in its immensity.
The target for discrimination in this case was the person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Velvet Revolution which was called the revolution of love and solidarity, came to break the rooted way of working and stereotypes, to make the Republic of Armenia a safe place with equal opportunities for everybody. Everybody had their participation in the revolution.
The time for new Armenia came but it only led to the worsening of the situation of LGBT people and human rights organizations and defenders engaged in the protection of the rights of LGBT people.
Thus, yet a few months ago several mass media outlets, political forces and civic unions began speaking and publishing materials about the LGBT Christian Forum that was to take place in Armenia, in November 2018. They blamed New Generation Humanitarian NGO for:
- Endangering the statehood of Armenia,
- Planning parades on the territory of RA,
- Planning editions of the Bible,
- Destroying the Armenian family,
- Reducing the birthrate in Armenia,
- Destroying the army of Armenia
- Perverting children and other untrue intentions.
They called to bring the president of New Generation Humanitarian NGO to criminal responsibility and/or expel from the Republic of Armenia.
Several persons, NGOs and initiatives acting under the wing of political and non-political forces and individuals availed of the created situation to spread hate speech, threats and calls for violence, stigma and discrimination against LGBT people and human right defenders and CSOs dealing with their issues.
New Generation Humanitarian NGO and their staff members assisting the Forum in organization matters, and consequently LGBT community activists found themselves in the crosshairs of all this.
Thus, after the series of threats and hate speech towards New Generation Humanitarian NGO and their staff members, the organizers and participants of the protest actions against the Forum, took to the implementation of the following activities:
- Events against LGBT Christian Forum were created on the social websites,
- Press Releases were held by various mass media outlets, during which several former parliamentary members, CSO heads and activists made threats of assassinating NGO staff members,
- Marches and demonstrations were held against the LGBT Forum,
- Materials and calls violating the rights and infringing the dignity of LGBT community and New Generation Humanitarian NGO were published and disseminated,
- The social network and press was flooded with false and one-sided information,
- Persecution of the NGO staff members took place on November 2, 2018. Two cars persecuted the NGO staff members on the whole way from Aghveran city to Yerevan. Sevan Aghajanyan was in one of the persecuting cars which he confirmed on his Facebook page. This person is famous for his hate inciting activity against LGBT people and CSOs and human rights defenders dealing with their issues.
Due to the created situation that endangered the safety of NGO staff members, New Generation Humanitarian NGO was forced to temporarily cease their normal working process and draw the attention of local and international institutions on this great issue.
We – the undersigned human rights defenders, representatives of local and international organizations and diplomatic missions
The RA Government:
- To follow the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia
- To put into action the responsibilities assumed by the Republic of Armenia under international treaties, conventions and other documents and to add the sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds of discrmination in the draft law on Equality of Rights,
- To issue STATEMENT on condemning all kinds of illegal and antidemocratic steps on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,
- To bring on the agenda of relevant committees the pressing issue of legal protection of LGBT people and security of CSOs dealing with their issues, which requires urgent solution,
Diplomatic Missions and international organizations in RA
- To make statements condemning the created situation
- To cancel and not to provide visas for entry to European countries and USA to those persons that have carried out or contributed to activities against the democratic values and realization of human rights,
- To introduce Armenia as unsafe country for LGBT community and civic unions dealing with their issues to the European countries and USA.
The RA police:
- To ensure the safety of LGBT people and organizations engaged in the protection of their rights,
- To undertake necessary steps to bring to responsibility the persons who have made attacks or such attempts against LGBT people and representatives of NGOs engaged in the protection of their rights,
- To ensure due accompanying and guarding of any assembly organized and held as provided for by law.
The civic organizations and unions acting in Armenia
- To issue statements condemning violence and hate speech,
- To immediately report violations of law to the RA police,
- To conduct monitoring and jointly come up with legislative proposals and initiatives against discrimination.
Representatives of Mass Media
- Not to distort interviews and other information in their articles and other materials,
- To ensure diversity of opinion and impartiality in their materials.
The Organizers of Protest Actions against LGBT people
- To realize their right to freedom of assemblies as provided for by law,
- To refrain from calls and expressions that contain insult, defamation, slander, hatred, threats for violence,
- Not to apply violence and refrain from antidemocratic actions against the international documents and legislation effective in the Republic of Armenia.
The following organizations and institutions have joined this statement:
- New Generation Humanitarian NGO
- Helsinki Citizens Assembly Vanadzor Office
- Armenian Helsinki Association
- The Rule of Law Human Rights NGO
- Center for Legal Initiatives NGO
- For Strong Future NGO
- Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO
- Colorful House Social-cultural and Human Rights Defender NGO
- JunОst in Bayern
- Bayerischer Jugendring (the Bavarian Youth Council or BJR)
- Alliance.Global as a public community-based organization from Ukraine
- Norwegian Helsinki Committee
- Equality Movement Georgia
- Open Society Foundation
- Estonian Network of People Living with HIV
- Eurasian Coalition on Male Health (ECOM)
- Regional Network of Legal Aid to People Living with, affected by HIV
Links to articles containing hate speech, calls for violence and discrimination: