LGBTI People and Employment
Each person has a right to free choice of employment, which is established by Clause 1 of Article 57, of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia, while the representatives of the LGBTI community state that they cannot realize this as well as many other rights in Armenia due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Transgender person Nora Petrosyan is a nurse by profession, even though she tried to work in her profession, but did not succeed. “I applied to a dental clinic, ambulance department, they did not accept me, they always reasoned that they had no place, it was not convenient at the moment.”
In 2017 she finally found a job in the service sector She worked as a waiter in a cafe. Nora says that she was discriminated against many times while working in the cafe, she says that the employer was initially aware of her sexual orientation, but problems arose with the clients “The visitors of the cafe said that they do not want a gay person to serve them, to give them food because it is unhygienic. The director also said that he was losing clients because of me, so I should quit the work. ”
Nora Petrosyan currently does sex work.
Speaking about discrimination in labor relations, lawyer Shushan Khnkoyan mentions that the problem is that there is no separate law on the prohibition of discrimination in the legislation of the Republic of Armenia. “Although Article 3.1 of the RA Labor Code prohibits discrimination, it does not specifically mention the prohibition on the basis of the SOGI, the only clauses by which we can provide protection is the basis of the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of a social or other statuses. ”
Nora states that she is aware of that clause of the Labor Code. “No employer openly says that he/she is fired on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, other reasons are cited, that’s why we cannot apply to the law.”
According to the lawyer, the employer mentions other reasons in the order of dismissal, which reduces the protection mechanisms.
Gay person Alaska (name has been changed at his will) says that before he revealed his sexual orientation, he had no problems with work. At that time he was working in a warehouse as a worker. Then, when he revealed his sexuality, he was able to find a job only in the service sector. He still works as a waiter in a cafe. He is a marketing manager by profession. “I worked in one place for a year and a half as a waiter, I had problems in the first few months. A friend of my boss had seen me walking down the street with my friends. The next day he came to the cafe, I approached to serve, he said that he prefers someone else to serve him.” After this the employer gave Alaska a month to leave his position, but seeing his work skills, he changed his mind and did not fire him. According to Alaska, he has been discriminated against many times in his work, even by his colleagues. “One day one of my colleagues said that they were discussing me. My sexual orientation and gender identity were discussed at work, and I answered that I did not care, I came to work, I did not come so they discuss my personal life. ” According to Alaska, employers do not mention sexual orientation and gender identity when dismissing, they simply put forward other reasons.
According to lawyer Shushan Khnkoyan, employers do that in order to secure themselves, it is prohibited to state any conditions other than professional training and qualifications when dismissing a person, which would be a manifestation of discrimination unless it stems from the inherent requirements of the job. “It is necessary to understand that if a person does his/her job properly, what is the difference if the person is gay or heterosexual?”
According to the lawyer, the representatives of the LGBTI community mainly do not hold high public posts. “Homosexuality is still considered a mental illness in Armenia. For example, they are released from compulsory military service, if they mention that fact according to the government’s decision. Then, naturally, it becomes a reason for not being able to find employment in high positions.”
The right to work is an inalienable human right, and in employment relations, only the person’s personal and professional qualifications must be taken into account.
LGBTI – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex.
SOGI – Sexual orientation and gender identity
Transgender – A person whose gender identity or gender expression differs from their sex assigned at birth.
Gay – A person who has an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to persons of their own sex
Heterosexual – A person who has an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to persons of the opposite sex
The compilation and publication of this material has become possible within the framework of the project on Capacity Building and Empowerment for Protection of LGBTI Human Rights in Armenia implemented by New Generation Humanitarian NGO with the financial support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of New Generation Humanitarian NGO or the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.