Armenia’s first registered transgender woman has received death threats after making a historic speech in her country’s national assembly.
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 out against discrimination at a session of its committee on human rights. A video of the speech has been shared around the world.
Martirosyan expressed solidarity with a community that has been “tortured, raped, kidnapped, subjected to physical violence, burned, immolated, knifed, subjected to murder attempt, killed, emigrated, and robbed”. She said transgender people in Armenia are subjected “to stigma and discrimination in social, medical, legal, economic areas, and … [are left] unemployed, poor and morally abandoned”.
The speech, two weeks ago, 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. The prime minister and the main opposition have tried to blame each other for allowing Martirosyan’s speech.
“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,” she added, referring to popular protests last year that ushered in a new era under Nikol Pashinyan, the former street politician who was elected prime minister last May. Read more via the Guardian