LGBTI rights in Armenia and Georgia discussed at a regional conference in Tbilisi (15/06/2016)
On 2 June 2016, the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation hosted a Regional Conference Solidarity for Equality: the Rights and Conditions for LGBTI Persons in Armenia and Georgia, conducted as part of the EU-funded project Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia (2015-2017).
The Regional Conference featured official presentations of the findings of two in-depth studies on homo/bi/transphobic attitudes, as well as the legal and physical conditions of LGBTI persons in Armenia and Georgia, supplemented by associated discussions on homo/bi/transphobia as a social issue and conditions for LGBTI persons in Armenia and Georgia.
Mr Stephen Stork, Deputy Head of Operations at the EU Delegation in Georgia opened the conference together with Ms Nino Lejava, Director of the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation, Mr Ucha Nanuashvili, the Public Defender of Georgia, and Ms Sopho Japaridze, Assistant to the Prime Minister of Georgia on Human Rights and Gender Equality Issues.
In her welcome speech Ms Lejava highlighted the contributions of the Boell Foundation to the history of the LGBTI movement in Georgia, as well as gave an overview of the general political and social situation in the two countries. Mr Stork highlighted the significance of LGBTI human rights in EU policy. Mr Nanuashvili spoke about flaws in Georgian legislation, especially in terms of a lack of enforcement mechanisms envisioned by the anti-discrimination law, legal issues related to transgender persons, the situation of LGBTI persons in penitentiary facilities and other problems related to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Georgia. Ms Japaridze proceeded to speak about the positive changes in regulations and presented details of the 2016-17 Human Rights Action Plan of the Government of Georgia including specific and targeted improvements with regard to LGBTI rights.
The conference was attended by representatives of the Human Rights and Civil Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament, parliamentary parties, , the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, the Gender Equality Department of the Public Defender’s Office, the Human Rights Defender’s Office of Armenia, the Georgian Public Broadcaster, numerous diplomatic missions and international organisations, as well as relevant Armenian and Georgian non-governmental and civil society organisations, including those working on LGBTI issues.
The principal objectives of the EU-funded action implemented by the Heinrich Boell Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office are combating discrimination against LGBTI persons, enhancing their protection from all types of violence, adequate provision of their human rights, and supporting their full-fledged inclusion into Georgian and Armenian societies. Together with its partners, the project seeks to overcome homophobia/transphobia through consistent public awareness raising, positive media visibility, civil society mobilisation and the promotion of the human rights movement and agenda. The partners of the action are: Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group (WISG), Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) in Georgia and Society Without Violence (SWV) and Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK) in Armenia.
Both the study of homo/bi/transphobic attitudes and the situational assessment of legal conditions of LGBTI persons in Armenia and Georgia will serve as a basis for an evidence-based, long-term advocacy document of strategic significance, as well as relevant recommendations, aimed at overcoming homo/bi/transphobia in the two South Caucasus countries.
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