The Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office, with financial support of the EU, has implemented a three-year action Solidarity Network for LGBTI in Armenia and Georgia, executed by a working group of NGOs - 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.
In the wake of the homophobic demonstrations and violence against LGBTI persons in Tbilisi in May 2013 and the burning down of an LGBTI-friendly pub in Yerevan in May 2012, numerous social, political and situational factors have continued to fuel the challenging environment and discriminatory attitudes towards LGBTI individuals in the South Caucasus. Homophobia and transphobia constitute very profound and longstanding issues intrinsic within these societies, backed by various state and non-state actors, and deeply rooted in tradition and culture.
Thus, 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 constituted the principal objectives of the action.
Together with its partners, the project seeked to overcome homophobia/transphobia through consistent public awareness raising, positive media visibility, civil society mobilization and promoting the human rights movement and agenda. The project envisioned the conduction of an unprecedented large-scale comprehensive study of societal attitudes towards LGBTI individuals in both countries (Georgia, Armenia), as well as a situational assessment of existing conditions, including access to and accessibility of certain services to LGBTI persons (Georgia, Armenia). The study and the assessment has layed the groundwork for the development of a long-term evidence-based and politically viable advocacy strategy to gradually and effectively reduce and eliminate homophobia/transphobia in all levels of society.
The project aimed to strengthen the capacity of local CSOs and LGBTI organizations, especially those working in the regions, via various targeted trainings and workshops to allow them to consolidate their expertise and resources in a strong network that will be able to successfully advocate for the mainstreaming and protection of LGBTI rights, eradicate discrimination and prevent violence.
The action also envisaged awareness raising, sensitization, and capacity building exercises targeted at law enforcement agencies in Georgia, which will be conducive to better protection of LGBTI individuals from violence and human rights violations.
The visibility component of the project entailed a multifaceted public awareness campaign, including public service announcements/social advertising, promotional materials, public discussions, the production of documentary films on LGBTI issues for subsequent public screenings, and the consistent advocacy and endorsement of the long-term strategy document.
The end result of the project envisioned a more comprehensive understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) issues, mainstreaming and internalization of LGBTI-friendly attitudes, the reduction and eventual elimination of discrimination, the guarantee of the protection of LGBTI rights, and the full inclusion of LGBTI persons in society in both Georgia and Armenia.
Links: Heinrich Böll Foundation South Caucasus Regional Office LGBT Web Dossier http://ge.boell.org/en/lgbt-web-dossier
Social video "Love or Hate?" with English subtitles: