There is no hope for positive changes in the nearest future. Ara Harutyunyan interviews journalist Ara Harutyunyan.

– Ara, as a journalist you have covered many problems that LGBTI people face in Armenia. What do you think are the most important issues in Armenia for LGBTI people?

– There are many problems for these people in Armenia and there are in all areas of life. From the family to the institutions of the state; army, medicine, education, labor market etc. The discriminatory attitude of society and the state leads to cases of violence; because of this discrimination, LGBTI people cannot be fulfilled, which causes them psychological problems as well. In this context the role of the state is important to fight against discrimination.

– Can you bring some examples of how discrimination is expressed in Armenia towards LGBTI?

– Personally, I was discriminated by the state because I did not do my obligatory military service, which deprived me of the opportunity to hold public positions in the future. In addition, the process of obtaining a driver’s license is not legally possible. This is an obvious and brutal violation of human rights.

– You have mentioned that you are deprived to hold public positions. What is the situation in private sector?

– In Armenia, even if the person speaks of the universal concept of human rights, it is already targeted by Armenian society. I always defend the rights of LGBTI people. Even defending LGBTI rights and talking about the concept of human rights has caused negative reactions to me. For one of my colleagues just the fact that I’m defending the rights of LGBTI people has been enough to start a campaign against me. He talked to me and threatened to stop working with me. He managed to convince almost all my colleagues to make the same decision. The director strongly suggested that I resign in order to avoid disputes with the team and I had to accept his decision as the working conditions became unbearable.

In Armenia, homosexuality is a taboo. In the army, there is even a separate kitchenware for gay soldiers. For many people working with someone who represents the LGBTI community is equal to death and disgrace. In this situation of hatred and discrimination, opponents have only one step to take to become violent. No one is secured.

– Have you tried to solve this problem by justice?

– In Armenia, ordinary civil law cases does not find a fair solution. This becomes even more difficult for representatives of different social groups whose rights are not protected by Armenian authorities. At best they might be mocked and bullied at the police station. Another obstacle for them is the lack of appropriate legislation.

– You talked about several problems that you faced. What can be done to change the situation?

– The state should conduct a policy of tolerance and acceptance towards the LGBTI community, but unfortunately, the various institutions of the state lead a homophobic policy. In addition, the fact that Armenia has become a member of the Customs Union led by Russia, gives me no hope for positive changes in the nearest future. The only thing we can do is to fight so that the situation does not become even worse.