Armenia decriminalised same-sex relations in 2003, but the ex-Soviet republic is the second-worst country for LGBT+ rights in Europe, according to a ranking by campaign group ILGA Europe. Many gay and trans activists were optimistic that the country's deep-seated homophobia would start to decline after mass street protests in April 2018 ousted long-time leader Serzh Sargsyan.
Led by journalist-turned-politician Nikol Pashinyan, the bloodless uprising was widely backed by LGBT+ groups, who hoped that along with new leadership, the country would see an improvement in the human rights situation. Hovsepyan, whose Pink Armenia took part in the revolution, said that while LGBT+ people were present at previous protests, this time they were more visible.
"People were more open" during the revolution, Hovsepyan said. "Trans people could (go) outside the way they wanted to go outside, not just hiding and dressing as society wanted them to."
For bi-gender activist Nora Petrosyan, who uses both masculine and feminine pronouns, it was also one of the rare times that differing gender identities were accepted in public. "(People) accepted me, took interest... and when new guys came into our group, they stood up for me, they said don't hurt him, he's our friend, he's our brother," Petrosyan said.
But Hovsepyan said when the revolution ended in May people reverted back to old homophobic habits. Read more via Reuters