Armenian trans activist gets death threats after speech
Armenias first registered transgender woman has said that she received death threats after making a historic speech in her countrys national assembly against discrimination meted out to the LGBTI in the country, the media reported on Friday.
Lilit Martirosyan became the first member of her country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community to take to the parliamentary podium, speaking at a session of its committee on human rights. A video of the speech has been shared around the world, reports the Guardian.
In her speech two weeks ago, Martirosyan expressed solidarity with the community that has been “tortured, raped, kidnapped, subjected to physical violence, burned, immolated, knifed, subjected to murder attempt, killed, emigrated, and robbed”.
The speech has since sparked a backlash in Armenia, where homosexuality has been decriminalised but discrimination against LGBTI people is rife. There have been anti-LGBTI protests in front of the national assembly and verbal attacks made by some parliamentarians have included calls for her to be burned alive.
“This was the first time in Armenia when a transgender woman spoke from a high podium… of violence against transgender people,” Martirosyan told the Guardian.
“(A) transphobic man with a knife came to the national assembly to announce that he would kill me and that others like me must be killed, too… I have received many messages via Facebook and email from various people telling that they will find and kill me… In the post-revolutionary Armenia, hate has no place”
Martirosyan said the home addresses of several people who work for Right Side, the transgender rights organisation she created in 2016, have been leaked and that her own home address has been spread across the Internet by extremist groups who have threatened to “kill them if we find them”.
Last year, Hayk Hakobyan, founder of the Rainbow Armenia Initiative, was among several LGBTI activists attacked by a mob. Some were injured by a crowd that threw stones at them.
Hakobyan has since been forced to leave the country, and is seeking asylum in the Netherlands. He told the Guardian that Armenian society is hostile.