Armenia’s Parliament heard for the first time of the transgender struggle when Lilit Martirosyan addressed the Committee on Human Rights and Public Affairs on April 5th, 2019. Her passionate and universally accurate depiction of the transgender condition earned her expulsion by the chairwoman and she and her family, death threats.
“I stand for tortured, raped, burnt, stabbed, killed, banished, discriminated, poor and unemployed transgender people of Armenia,” Martirosyan, told the lawmakers in an English subtitled video below. She went on to say that hate crimes against transgender people mostly go unpunished. “I call upon you to carry out reforms and policies to achieve gender equality, and to ensure human rights for everyone,” she said.
The chair of the Committee, Naira Zohrabyan, claimed that the LGBT rights issues were not part of the agenda and that ”nobody violates” the rights of transgender people in Armenia.
Last year Lilit Martirosyan, president of the Right Side NGO stood up for a sister after she was nearly beaten to death and set on fire in her Yerevan apartment.
After giving the speech, reports FrontLine Defenders Martirosyan and her colleagues received a number of threats coming from radical nationalist and religious groups. Unknown assailants contacted her parents, threatened them and told them to move away from their village.
The Armenian religious right’s promise to make transgender people invisible.
As the leader of the Prosperous Armenia Party, head of a family steeped in Armenian traditions and faith, I say this [transgender rights] is not going to pass,” said Gagik Tsarukyan, the head of the second-largest faction in parliament. “This is a vice and we must hide the vice as we did before.”
Three days later, a crowd gathered in front of the parliament, with a collection of religious figures and other social conservatives condemning the speech and, according to activists, threatening violence against sexual minorities. Some of the protesters even called for consecrating the parliamentary floor to cleanse it after Martirosyan’s speech