A new report by Amnesty International has revealed an alarming culture of persecution in Armenia against the country’s LGBT community.
The 20-page report, Armenia: No space for difference, exposes the harassment and intimidation suffered by civil society activists and journalists who question the mainstream view of the country’s conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh.
The report also reveals discrimination and attacks on LGBT activists and people, and the unwillingness of the authorities to protect them.
A former republic of the Soviet Union, Armenia is currently negotiating with the European Union to become an associate member.
In 2011, a survey by the Armenian human rights group, Public Information and Need for Knowledge, found 71.5% believed the state should take measures to fight against gay people. Since then posters have appeared across the city of Yerevan calling for citizens to “fight against homosexuality” and claiming “homosexuals are leading our country to destruction”. The views have been echoed by Armenia’s ruling Republican Party and Parliament’s Deputy Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov.
Amnesty International’s researcher on Armenia, Natalia Nozadze, said: “The targets of such attacks are often left without adequate protection and offences against them go unpunished, which has a chilling effect on others.
“Frequently the result is that journalists and human rights defenders self-censor on contentious issues, which further contributes to the shrinking space for difference of opinion within Armenian society.”
There are no legal protections for LGBT Armenians.
Civil unions and same-sex marriages are not recognised in Armenia and same-sex sexual activity for men was only made legal in 2003.