One good and one bad news about the partnership agreement with the European Union

The Council of the European Union has published the text of a Comprehensive and Expanded Partnership Agreement with Armenia.

The unofficial Armenian translation of the text of the agreement has been posted on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia.

Article 85 of the voluminous document lists the fields, where “a certain number of “a certain number of issues to be addressed can be included in the cooperation based on the exchange of information and best practice” field.

Particularly noteworthy is one of the points listed above, in which the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation is mentioned.

“Equal opportunities and non-discriminatory treatment aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for women and men and enhancing gender equality, as well as at the fight against gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation”,- is written in the point “E” of the Article.

In other parts of the agreement, the term “sexual orientation” does not appear, and as to the term “gender identity”, it is not used in the text at all.

It is noteworthy that the aforementioned paragraph 85 is not imperatively  formulated as many other points of the document (for example, “The collaboration must include …”, “The parties should promote …”, etc.), but as an dispensable opportunity (“… a certain number of questions can be included …”) in the case that the matter is about the cooperation based solely on “the exchange of information and best practice”. In other words, the parties do not undertake to cooperate on the fight against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and they only note that exchange of information and best practice (experience) on this issue is not ruled out.

The text of the agreement contains references on the exclusion of discrimination in various contexts, but only with general formulations and not directly relating to sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The term “gender equality “appears only three times in the text: one – in the point cited above, the other two – in the context of the International Labour Organization’s “Decent Work” program.

Summarizing the above-mentioned, we should mention that within this material, we convey the reader one good news; that is – one reference on sexual orientation is found in the large-scale 357-page agreement and one bad news – the importance and value of that reference is questionable.

P.S. The EU’s Comprehensive and Expanded Partnership Agreement with Armenia was initialled at the end of March of the current year. Speaking at the UN General Assembly in September, Serzh Sargsyan stated that the document will be signed in November.