Protecting Trans Rights in Armenia
The following is an excerpt from an address given on June 22, 2023 to GMF staff.
I am Lilit Martirosyan, a trans woman and activist from Armenia. I am the founder and president of Right Side, a nongovernmental organization working to protect the rights of trans LGBIQ people since 2016. Right Side is proud to be a Black Sea Trust grantee for the last five years.
I am here today to celebrate Pride Month with you. We celebrate the LGBT community and its fight for equality. We celebrate the progress that has been made, and we recommit ourselves to the work that still needs to be done in Armenian society.
For too long, LGBT people have been discriminated against and treated as diseased or ill in Armenia. Community members have been denied jobs, housing, and healthcare. For many years we have been subjected to violence and harassment, neglect and ridicule. But I want to say: We are not alone. There are many people in Armenia who are fighting for our rights. We have allies in the international organizations like GMF, in the media, and civil society. We have activists in the LGBT community who never give up, who fight for the rights of the community, and make great progress. I want to thank all of them, as we are growing stronger every day with their support.
In recent years, we have seen major advances for the LGBT community in Armenia as it has become easier to legally change names. Protection of rights and the wellbeing of the community have also improved. But there is still much work to be done, as LGBT people are still more likely to live in poverty, to experience homelessness, and to be victims of violence. That is why it is so important to celebrate Pride Month. It is a time to come together.
There are a number of things that we can still do to protect LGBT people in Armenia and around the world. We can:
- Stand with every LGBT person who has faced violence and discrimination in their family and by society, and support them, especially morally
- Advocate for laws and policies that prohibit discrimination and violence against LGBT people
- Provide education and training to help people understand and accept LGBT people, starting from families and expanding to society writ large
- Create safe spaces for LGBT people to gather and socialize, and access education and career opportunities
- Support LGBT organizations that work to promote equality
I urge you to join us in working to protect LGBT people. Together, we can create a more just and inclusive society for each of us.
Let us celebrate Pride Month! Let us be proud of who we are and let us fight for the equality that we deserve.