Research: Armenian public mostly intolerant towards sexual minorities

Research: Armenian public mostly intolerant towards sexual minorities

Photolure

Arus Harutyunyan (left) and Mamikon Hovsepyan

The Public Information and Need of Knowledge and Socioscope NGOs have conducted a research in Yerevan, Gyumri and Vanadzor revealing complete intolerance towards sexual minorities, namely lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The main fields of operation of the Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK Armenia) NGO are sexual health, gender issues and human rights. Head of the organization Mamikon Hovsepyan points out that the survey was held as part of the “Our Rights and Us” project. The project was launched in 2009 and aims at revealing the challenges sexual minorities face in different spheres of social life as well as violations of their rights. A legal analysis of the issue has been carried out as well.

“The goal of the second stage that has just been completed was to reveal the public perception of LGBTs, to collect information by studying public opinion about the state policy towards these sexual minority groups, as well as later, together with professionals in the field, develop a guidebook for protection of their rights,” says Hovsepyan.

Sociologist Arus Harutyunyan from the Socioscope Societal Research and Consultancy Center, says 1,156 people were surveyed for the research. Based on her observations Harutyunyan says the knowledge of the surveyed on LGBT is limited to what they know about homosexuals, which can be explained by dogmatic mentality. For 15 percent of them the source of information on the issue is the Internet. Their knowledge is dogmatic; they are unaware of the scientific side of the issue.

“The majority of the surveyed believes the sexual orientation of minorities is an ailment, 12.7 percent think it is influenced by foreign countries, 10.8 believe it is a result of upbringing, and 9.8 said it is because of internet communication. The majority uses bad language and negative attitude when speaking about them, 11.5 percent is tolerant, and only 2.5 percent is sympathetic. On the whole, we can conclude that the surveyed are intolerant,” says Harutyunyan.

The research has demonstrated that those most informed and most tolerant are young people aged between 18 and 20 and residing in Yerevan and women with higher education.

The research conducting organizations have developed a package of suggestions to the government of Armenia, the Ombudsman’s office, as well as local and international NGOs.

“The main indicator of democratic society is tolerance towards minority groups on the one hand, and perception of the state as the protector of their rights and freedoms, on the other,” reads the document in part.

The research authors believe that first of all the legislative field has to be improved in order to ensure the protection of rights of minority groups; to form an atmosphere of tolerance they suggest adopting anti-discrimination laws and organizing events that would raise public awareness.