The Human Rights Defender’s office has publicized the annual report on HRD activities, the situation of human rights and freedom protection during 2016.
There is a part in the report titled “Discrimination based on sexual orientation” in “Other rights and legislative issues” paragraph.
It’s written in the RA Constitution in article 29 that “Any discrimination based on sex, race, skin color, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion, worldview, political or any other views, belonging to a national minority, property status, birth, disability, age, or other personal or social circumstances shall be prohibited.”
It’s written in the report: “Although discrimination is prohibited by the RA Constitution, people aren’t protected effectively because of lack of legal mechanisms. Thus, it’s essential to invest legislative mechanisms which will define not only the notion of discrimination and its types, but also the precise mechanisms preventing discrimination. In this regard, in 2015 it was suggested by UN Universal Periodic Review that Armenia accept a comprehensive legislation defining discrimination and effective mechanisms of fighting against discrimination, which is directed to propaganda against hatred towards vulnerable social groups and to the exclusion of provocation.
During 2016 a number of organizations referred to discrimination manifestations in Armenia. So, Human Rights Watch international justice organization reported that the sexual minorities are still facing discrimination, harassment and physical violence, as well as preaching against them is being continued. A number of human rights defendant organizations also reacted to their problems.
According to Helsinki Committee of Armenia, 13 cases of harassment towards LGBTI persons were recorded in 2016, 3 of which were physical violence. In two cases of violence transgender person became a victim; during the first case he was attacked and beaten in the street, in the second case he was stabbed, and in the third case a teenager, whose being a homosexual was revealed at school, was then subjected to violence at home and his freedom was restricted.
It’s noteworthy that according to the norms of RA criminal legislation, a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity isn’t considered to be an attribute of committed crime on the base of hatred. In the same way, according to 63 article «Circumstances aggravating the liability and punishment», only ethnic, racial or religious hatred can be considered to be a crime motive. Thus, as a result of legislative shortage, committal of crime by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity based on hatred do not effect on crime estimation or on the decision of punishment type.
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights, referring to displays of discrimination based on person’s sexual orientation, mentioned that discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation is as problematic as discrimination by “sex, race or skin color””.
There is not any other reference on LGBTI persons and their rights in a 314-page-report.
However, it’s worth mentioning that in this annual report the human right’s defender states that “Because of lack of clear legal mechanisms people are deprived of effective protection means of their rights” and notes the necessity of approving anti-discrimination law. We should recall that the anti-discrimination law is still being drafted in the Government. Its content hasn’t been publicized yet, and it is not obvious whether prohibition of discrimination towards LGBTI people will be included there or not.
It’s noteworthy that HRD records a legislative shortage referring to crimes committed on the bases of hatred towards person’s sexual orientation and gender identity and points out that because of legislative shortage there is a problem with identifying criminal type and making a decision on punishment.
However the volume of restrictions of LGBTI persons’ rights and freedom, violations, as well as legal shortages isn’t reflected in HRD annual report.