Within the framework of “Solidarity Network for LGBTI persons in Armenia and Georgia” project a few representatives of Armenian non-governmental organizations paid a cognitive visit to Tbilisi on October 25 -28.
With financial support of the EU the Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office has initiated the implementation of a three-year action Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia, executed by a working group of NGOs – “Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group” (WISG), “Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center” (EMC) in Georgia and “Society Without Violence” (SWV) and “Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK)” in Armenia.
The aim of the project is to overcome homophobia/transphobia through consistent public awareness raising, positive media visibility, civil society mobilization and promoting the human rights movement and agenda.
In her interview with LGBTnews project coordinator in Georgia Anne Nemsitsveridze mentioned that the visit aimed to bring together a group of representatives of civil society. A part of them already work in the field of protection of LGBTI rights and the other part is about to start working. The meeting aimed to raise participants’ awareness so that they can work more efficiently in the field after returning to their workplaces in Armenia.
On the first day the participants had a meeting with representatives of “Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group” (WISG) and “Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center” (EMC) at WISG office. Georgian implementing partners shared their experiences working in the field of LGBTI persons’ rights protection.
They introduced the problems they face during their job, LGBTI persons’ legal status, their experience in terms of working with LGBTI people as well as how they work and try to cooperate with the Police and politicians. Afterwards, representatives of Armenian and Georgian NGOs had a discussion on major achievements regarding to LGBTI rights over the last 10-15 years and current priority challenges, the level of LGBTI community engagement in activism, and the most frequently applied strategies to influence the media and public opinion.
At the end of the day the screening of the documentary film Listen to Me: Untold Stories Beyond Hatred produced by PINK Armenia with financial support of the US Embassy in Yerevan was held at the Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office.
The second day of the tour included a visit to the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia. Representative of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia Natia Katsitadze as well as other heads of different departments of the office introduced the methods and working experiences of the Public Defender’s Office of Georgia, reviewed several successful case studies of discrimination displays over the last few years.
On the third day, as a concluding segment of the capacity-building tour, the participants were at the office of “LGBT Georgia”, a local community-based organization. The head of the organization introduced LGBTI problems in the country and works being done in the field. Levan Berianidze also talked about the recently initiated queer event series and how they help with the community consolidation. On the same day participants met with the representatives of LGBTQI Association Temida, who mainly talked about work with the MSM population, as well as works on HIV/AIDS and other STI prevention and management.
To sum up the tour, in her interview with LGBTnews the project coordinator in Armenia, Olya Azatyan, mentioned that besides getting acquainted with Georgian experience it’s significant to create a network.
“It’s more important for me that people know who are working on these issues in Georgia, and it’s going to be a lot easier to communicate. The participants should work in the framework of the project and only then the result will be seen. By the time the participants introduce their projects Georgian experience will somehow help them”.
Olya Azatyan mentioned that within the framework of the Heinrich Böll Foundation project two researches have already been carried out on LGBTI situation. On the bases of the research a strategic plan has been written and a few projects have been implemented. Small projects are expected to be implemented at the end, which should be related to the issues mentioned in the strategic plan.