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Armenia: Attack against LGBTQI rights defenders

40 received worrying information regarding the attacks faced by LGBTQI rights defenders in Armenia. The Right Side, an NGO founded in 2016 by trans rights defenders, focusing on transgender issues and working with members of the Armenian trans community was attacked on 21 August 2023. The Right Side is the first and only trans rights NGO in the Caucasus that fights for the equal rights of all, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

On 21 August 2023, the Right Side NGO held a candlelight vigil in Komitas Park, Yerevan, in memory of Adriana, a transgender woman who was stabbed to death and burned in her own apartment the previous day. More than a hundred people attended the event, including LGBTIQ+ rights defenders and allies, community members, and family members of Adriana. The Right Side NGO notified the local authorities in Yerevan about the vigil in advance. Despite this, the law enforcement officers who gathered in the park and monitored the preparation of the vigil remained inactive at the time of the attack. The assailants entered the park and threw eggs, bottles, stones and sand at the people attending the vigil. After the vigil, woman human rights defender Lilit Martirosyan, the president of the Right Side NGO, filed a report to the police about the attack.

Attacks against transgender human rights defenders and their allies are not rare in Armenia. In July 2023, unknown individuals attacked a trans-woman human rights defender who was collaborating with the New Generation Humanitarian NGO at the Shengavit Administrative District of Yerevan. In 2019, Lilit Martirosyan received death threats after she gave a speech at the National Assembly of Armenia about the issues faced by the LGBTQI+ community in the country. In February 2018, a member of the Right Side NGO, a transgender woman, was physically assaulted by an unidentified man in her apartment in Yerevan. The assailant also set her apartment on fire. Due to the heightened risk faced by transgender human rights defenders, the victims of such attacks often remain anonymous out of fear for their lives.