WITH COMMUNITY, FOR COMMUNITY: IDAHOBIT2022
May 17th is celebrated annually around the world as the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia Transphobia and Interphobia. The date of May 17th was specifically chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. Now – 29 years later many states of the world have improved their mechanisms of fighting homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and interphobia creating a safe space for LGBTI people free from hatred and violence.
Each year on this day New Generation Humanitarian NGO (NGNGO) organizes different events: flash mobs, meeting-discussions, press releases and conferences to mark this special day of fighting discrimination against LGBTI people and bring the public attention to the issues and problems of this people.
At NGNGO’s initiative this year 5 community-based and human rights organizations have united their efforts to provide a platform for the LGBTI community to present their issues and problems to different stakeholder bodies, i.e. representatives of diplomatic missions and state authorities, local and international institutions, and discuss possible ways of their solution.
This year’s IDAHOBIT event was held in the form of meeting-discussion under the slogan “WITH COMMUNITY, FOR COMMUNITY” PROGRESS AND ACHIEVEMENTS”. Representatives of Diplomatic Missions in Armenia, international organizations, state agencies, ombudswoman’s office, local NGOs, community-based NGOs and LGBTI community, journalists, human rights defenders and activists participated in the event.
Sergey Gabrielyan, President of New Generation Humanitarian NGO opened the meeting with a speech expressing his gratitude for accepting the invitation to take part in the event and highlighted the importance of dialogue among all stakeholders.
Next, the representatives of the diplomatic missions present at the meeting – H.E.M. Nico Schermers, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Armenia, Jan Plesinger, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to the Republic of Armenia, Annika Nordin Jayawardena, Deputy Head of Mission/Counsellor, Coordination of Swedish development cooperation, Alison Hannah, Chief of Political and Economic Section of the Embassy of the United States of America to Armenia and Roza Babayan, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) Country Manager – made their welcoming speeches and confirmed the commitment of their missions to help and support at their best the elimination of stigma and discrimination. They also talked about the opportunities and programs that their organizations implement or envisage for LGBTI people. The guests invited to the meeting and the representatives of the community had the opportunity to send their questions to the representatives of the diplomatic bodies and receive answers.
After the welcoming speeches “THE COMMUNITY talks. Our Bodies, Our Lives, Our Rights” platform launched with participation of those who had pride stories to share with the audience. The discussion was hosted by activists Hmayak Avetisyan and Monica Sarkisyan. The participants of the discussion spoke about the importance of the day, shared their pride stories, raised issues, challenges, presented how they see the further process of struggle against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, interphobia in Armenia, their role in that process.
Camelia Kandiliani, president of the National Trans Coalition human rights NGO and transgender woman activist spoke about the problems of trans* people in Armenia, the actions taken to improve the situation, and the progress made. She noted that trans* people have become more visible, people have started talking about the community issues.
National Trans Coalition human rights NGO advocacy coordinator, transgender woman activist Monica Sarkisyan spoke about the process of gender affirming procedurs, obstacles, challenges, personal experience.
Babken Ghardyan, President of the “For Freedom” human rights NGO, singled out the problems of GBT persons in penitentiaries.
Sargis Ayvazyan, co-founder of “Fearless” human rights NGO, revealed the problems of health services for LGBTI people in Armenia, the cases of violation of the right to health, the high level of stigma and discrimination in healthcare institutions.
At the end of the discussion, the participants addressed their messages to the younger members of the community in the field of defending their rights and continuing the struggle.
During the event also a photoflashmob was organized, within the framework of which honourable ambassadors in Armenia, other
representatives of diplomatic missions, CSO
representatives and other allies sent their messages dedicated to IDAHOBIT2022. The exhibition of the mentioned photos and messages, together with other awareness raising materials, comprised the important part of the event once more highlighting the significance of the day.
The event was concluded with a free conversation and exchange of ideas.
The event was initiated by the efforts of several community-based organizations (New Generation Humanitarian NGO, National Trans Coalition Human Rights NGO, Armenian Trans* People Working Group, For Freedom Human Rights NGO, Fearless Human Rights NGO) with financial support of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Eurasian Coalition on Health, Rights, Gender and Sexual Diversity (ECOM).