“Every single time we gather and discuss the issues which are more than important nowadays for achieving equality and non-discrimination towards the LGBTI community and allies, I proudly understand one simple fact: Who, if not us? And, when, if not now?" – Arman Sahakyan, New Generation Humanitarian NGO, Armenia
LGBTI individuals and LGBTI human rights defenders in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia are facing huge challenges as LGBTI rights issues are currently shaped by EU, Russia, and South Caucasus geopolitical and economic interests. Could the European Neighbourhood Policy and other EU foreign policy initiatives contribute to the improvement of the LGBTI rights situation in the region?
Wie Nino Lejava, Büroleiterin unseres Regionalbüros Südkaukasus die Hetzjagd auf eine friedliche protestierende LGBTI-Gruppe im Mai erlebte und was sich seitdem in der georgischen Hauptstadt verändert hat, erzählt sie in diesem Interview.
Wars, state failure, social and economic problems – for more than one decade after the fall of the Soviet Union, the three states of the South Caucasus, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan were faced with existential challenges. With the consolidation of state structures, the at least transitional freezing of territorial conflicts, and the strengthening of ties with Western Europe, attention to the rights of sexual minorities also increased.
Azerbaijan’s capital Baku was ready when the Eurovision Song Contest took place there at the end of May 2012. All guests were welcome. “Baku was very open and liberal,” Stern.de journalist Jens Maier describes the atmosphere. “A gay club was opened. I do not know of any cases in which problems arose or people felt threatened.” Two openly gay activists, Elham Bagirov and Kamran Rzayev, also remember the excitement of this occasion.
In Armenia, everyone is proud of Sergei Parajanov. He is characterized among the most original film directors of the 20th century and has as a result been recognized by colleagues in the same league as French director Jean-Luc Godard. The fact that Parajanov, who died in 1990, spent five years in prison during the Soviet era because he supposedly propagated homosexuality is mostly kept quiet, however. When people refer to this, it is immediately assumed that they do so in order to denigrate Parajanov.
The South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation hosted a round table entitled “LBT Rights are Women’s Rights” on 12 March 2012. The round table was a part of the Week of 8th March Campaign organized by “Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group”. The photo exhibition “A Room of One’s Own” was also part of the event, where participants could view professional and amateur photographers’ works.