LGBTI HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN ARMENIA, BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN, AND KYRGYZSTAN
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the gradual establishment of grassroots lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights groups across Eastern Europe and Central Asia has resulted in some visibility for LGBTI people. However, this visibility has led to a fierce backlash from the majority.
Based on participatory research conducted over two years in Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Amnesty International found that in those four countries LGBTI human rights defenders (HRDs) face challenges that are not necessarily experienced by “mainstream” HRDs in their work.
Social and political homophobia and transphobia contribute to the demonization of LGBTI HRDs and activists. Politicians and media often engage in advocacy of homophobic or transphobic hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence. The state authorities are unwilling to protect LGBTI HRDs and activists: police often fail to prevent and investigate homophobic and transphobic hate crimes. Importantly, LGBTI, HRDs are often left demoralized by the failure of other civil society actors to show solidarity and support, and include the human rights of LGBTI people in their own work.
These challenges weaken the reach and impact of advocacy for LGBTI rights in a region jam-packed with homophobia and transphobia, and threaten the sustainability of work towards realizing the rights of LGBTI people.