Armenia Sees Backlash Against Transgender Woman Who Spoke in Parliament

By Ani Paitjan

On April 5, Lilit Martirosyan, a transgender woman, spoke during a parliament session dedicated to “National human rights agenda: UN Universal Periodic Review.”

In her speech, Martirosyan said she represents “the embodiment of a tortured, raped, kidnapped, physically assaulted, burnt, murdered, robbed and unemployed Armenian transgender.”

There was backlash against her speech from conservative groups in Armenia.

Martirosyan received many hateful messages and death threats for her public appearance.

Watch: LGBT Rights in Armenia: Politics of Violence

On April 8, the Will (Kamq) NGO organized an event called “In defense of national traditions.” They were later joined by the conservative “Step of Each Person for the Nation” civic initiative. The group of around hundred demonstrators gathered outside the National Assembly in Yerevan to protest against Martirosyan’s speech.

They declared that her speech desecrated the podium of the National Assembly and that the podium has to be cleansed with incense, which they had brought with them for that purpose.

Gevorg Petrosyan and Tigran Urikhanyan, both deputies of the Prosperous Armenia Party faction, also joined the protest.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan responded, “It was a sitting of the parliament’s Human Rights Committee. Now I am asking you all: Is Lilit Martirosyan, who received a passport of the Republic of Armenia, a human being or not? Let everyone answer the question – the clergymen, members of the Republican and Prosperous Armenia Parties and conservatives.”

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