Leading Armenian LGBTI group Pink Armenia have raised concerns over the possibility of anti-gay legislation being introduced to the South Caucasus country following Armenia’s recent agreement to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
The announcement that Armenia would join the economic bloc came earlier this month when Armenia’s membership application was accepted by fellow members Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The EEU will come into place on January 1 2015 and will promote a shared economy across the Former-Soviet nations.
Pink Armenia however are concerned that the EEU may force Armenian lawmakers into adopting anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws similar to those established in Russia in 2013. These concerns comes from an agreement with EEU members to establish shared laws covering a range of topics. Although these laws in theory are only related to the economy many groups people fear that the growing influence of Russia in the country may lead to legislation modelled on current Russian standards.
Earlier this month potential EEC member Kyrgyzstan made moves to adopt harsh anti-gay laws based on Russia’s own which will outlaw the ‘promotion of same-sex relations’ and will make LGBT activism in the country illegal. Kyrgyzstan now stands alongside a list of countries including Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine that have been heavily influenced by the Russian laws.
Previously a draft to adopt anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws in Armenia was blocked by lawmakers. However, with ever growing ties to Russia many fear that membership to the EEU will allow homophobic politicians to reattempt to establish such laws.
Homosexuality was legalised in 2003 after the country entered the pre-accession stage of entry to the Council of Europe. Membership to the EEU however will mean Armenia no longer being forced to conform to European standards, leaving them open to adopting new homophobic laws.
Currently LGBT individuals in Armenia have very little legal protection from the state and the country has no legislation defining homophobia as a hate crime. As well as this much of the anti-discrimination laws in Armenia to not apply to LGBT individuals.