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Celebrating LGBTIQ history month in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a journey of resilience and progress

February is LGBTIQ History Month – a time to shine a spotlight on the actions and achievements of members of the LGBTIQ community throughout history. While the recognition and celebration of history are global, it’s essential to acknowledge the unique experiences and challenges faced by LGBTIQ individuals in different regions, particularly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

The history of LGBTIQ rights and activism in EECA is complex and varied. Discrimination, violence, and harassment remain widespread, fueled by cultural, religious, and political factors. In some countries, laws targeting LGBTIQ individuals continue to exist, restricting their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association.

There are 57 organizations in the REAct system providing health services to members of the LGBTIQ community. In 2023 alone, 1,109 referrals were documented and this number remains among the leaders:

Registered casesOther countriesUkraine
Key group (people, who use drugs)1279707
Key group (people living with HIV)16831152
Key group (sex workers)1054347
Key group (LGBTIQ)1109437

Main types of perpetrators (by countries where REAct works and for all years). As a rule, violence against victims is perpetrated by private individuals.

Police516
Family, relatives300
Acquaintances173
Hate group175
Husband/wife, intimate partner137
Other specialised doctor, NOT related to HIV/AIDS and TB101
Client of sex worker82
 Employer104
Representative of the same key group72
Neighbours96
AIDS center or other doctor related to HIV/AIDS65
Business, shops, service sector56
Hospital, inpatient facility57
Homeowner or landowner42
Special law enforcement services35
Military, army25
Political representatives21
University21
Migration service (state service15
Border guards13
Media and journalists13
School10

Main types of violations (by countries where REAct operates and for all years)

Hate speech, verbal abuse913
Threatening, intimidation, harassment867
Violence by individuals based on hatred571
Extortion, blackmail260
Public outing, defamation208
Eviction, coercion to leave the residence188
Arbitrary arrest or detention167
Misuse of power by law enforcement165
Other breach of privacy151
Sexual assault/abuse148
Domestic/intimate partner violence130
Excessive use of force by law enforcement118
Destruction of property, motivated by hatred108
Dismissal, denial of employment99
Denial of protection and investigation by the police81
Refusal to provide hospital care and other medical service74
Psychological mistreatment in public health facility68

Thus, in modern Tajikistan, representatives of the LGBTIQ community face serious violations of their rights. Detentions under Article 241 of the Criminal Code (distribution of pornography) have become more frequent in the country. The grounds for such charges are personal intimate photos found on the phones of the accused or intimate correspondence. Renata’s story is an important example of the continuing struggle for rights and freedom and emphasizes the need to support and protect those who face discrimination and persecution because of their gender and sexual identity.

Kazakhstan recorded an incident involving Danara, a 25-year-old queer woman and LGBTIQ activist. Her story was a powerful example of the struggle to ensure equal rights and non-discrimination in the workplace, regardless of their sexual orientation.

In Armenia, a trans woman, activist, and employee of a local NGO was attacked. Thanks to her courage and determination, her attacker was apprehended and a criminal case was opened. Her story served as a reminder that everyone can and should fight for their rights and the rights of others.

However, despite these challenges, there have been significant strides towards equality and acceptance in recent years. One of the key aspects of LGBTIQ history in this region is the resilience and courage of activists who fight tirelessly for their rights from grassroots movements to organized protests. To challenge discriminatory laws and societal attitudes. The visibility of LGBTIQ issues has increased thanks in part to the efforts of activists, organizations, and allies. Pride events, film festivals, and other cultural initiatives have helped to raise awareness and foster a sense of community among LGBTIQ individuals.

Moreover, there have been notable advances in terms of legal recognition and protection for LGBTIQ rights in certain countries. For example, Estonia has legalized same-sex partnerships, while others have introduced measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It’s also important to recognize the role of international organizations and human rights bodies in promoting LGBTIQ rights in EECA. The European Union, the Council of Europe, and the United Nations have all called on countries in the region to respect and protect the rights of LGBTIQ individuals. These efforts help to push for legislative reforms and provide support to local activists and organizations.

By standing in solidarity with LGBTIQ individuals and supporting their rights, it is worth noting that LGBTIQ History Month provides an opportunity to honor the achievements and contributions of community in EECA, while also acknowledging the challenges it continues to face. However through activism, advocacy, and solidarity, we can strive to create a world where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can live with dignity, equality, and respect.


Also read:

Tajikistan has taken the first step to protect the rights and eliminate discrimination of citizens living with HIV

Empowering social justice in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a call to collective action

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Empowering social justice in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: a call to collective action

The World Social Justice Day, observed annually on February 20th, stands as a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggle against unemployment, social exclusion, and poverty. This globally recognized day, as mandated by the United Nations General Assembly, underscores the critical importance of social development and justice in fostering peace and security within and among nations. As we navigate through the complexities of the modern world, it is increasingly evident that social development and justice are not only fundamental rights but also indispensable prerequisites for sustainable peace and prosperity. As the International Labour Organization points out in its latest World Employment and Social Outlook report, as of 2023

– 241 million workers lived in extreme poverty. 

– 423 million workers lived in moderate poverty. 

These alarming numbers underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the root causes of working poverty and boost economic opportunities globally.

It resonates profoundly across Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) as well, where socio-economic disparities, conflicts, and institutional weaknesses have strained the fabric of social cohesion. Against this backdrop, there is a pressing need to galvanize efforts towards fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

As we approach the halfway mark towards realizing the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda, it becomes imperative to intensify our endeavors toward promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all. Central to this endeavor are the four interconnected dimensions of social justice: ensuring universal human rights and capabilities, facilitating equal access to opportunities for employment and productive activity, promoting fair distribution outcomes, and facilitating just transitions amidst significant societal transformations.

Despite pockets of resilience observed in labor markets during the preceding year, the global economic landscape remains fraught with uncertainties, exacerbating structural inequalities and leaving millions marginalized. Projections indicate a further deterioration in the global unemployment rate in the 2024 year, with EECA bearing a disproportionate burden. Alarmingly, millions within this region continue to grapple with extreme or moderate poverty, highlighting the urgent need for targeted interventions to address the root causes of working poverty and enhance economic opportunities.

In response to these challenges, governments across EECA must prioritize initiatives aimed at bolstering domestic economies, fostering regional cooperation, and providing targeted support to vulnerable economies. Furthermore, there is a pressing need for a comprehensive approach that leverages education, social protection, and environmental sustainability as catalysts for transformative change.

In the context of the rights of working representatives from key groups such as people living with HIV, sex workers, and LGBT+ individuals, there is a need for special attention to their vulnerability and protection of their rights in the workplace. In many countries in EECA, these groups face systematic discrimination and stigma, which creates additional barriers to obtaining decent employment and protection in the labor market.

Kyrgyzstan:

Case: A woman was fired because of a history of incarceration and drug use, although she had already been reinstated. After she was accused of stealing a cell phone, she was fired and deprived of her full salary.

Solution: The client was provided legal advice by REActors and accompanied at her place of employment. After negotiations and the presentation of camera video proving her innocence, she was reinstated and received compensation for moral damages.

Kazakhstan:

Case: A man living with HIV came to REActors after he was denied employment (as a massage therapist) at a private medical center. He was rejected because of his HIV+ status and was also neglected.

Solution: The client was counseled on the rights of PLHIV patients and the Labor Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The REActors accompanied him to the medical center, where they drafted a pre-trial statement and spoke with the head doctor. After explanations, they apologized and offered him a job (but the man refused).

Azerbaijan:

Case: REActors were approached by a client who was working on a construction site. He was supposed to be paid 15 manat per day (about 8 euros), but he received only 5 manat and the remaining 10 manat was to be paid every 2 weeks. At the end of the term, he was fired and paid nothing, with the excuse that he was from a community of people, who use drugs.

Solution: After consulting with a lawyer, the REActors met with the foreman and explained to him that illegal dismissal is punishable, regardless of whether the worker was officially employed or not. He agreed to pay the man 140 manat and the client dropped further complaints.

In light of these (and other) cases, regional and national human rights programs should include measures to protect the rights of workers from these key groups. This includes ensuring workplaces free from discrimination based on HIV status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, as well as ensuring equal access to employment opportunities and social protection.

Human rights organizations and government bodies should collaborate to develop and implement policies aimed at strengthening the rights of workers from key groups. This may involve awareness campaigns about workplace rights, training for employers and employees on non-discrimination principles, and creating mechanisms for recourse for rights protection (as REAct instrument).

To ensure the successful integration of these groups into the work environment, attention must also be paid to their specific needs and vulnerabilities. This may include providing access to HIV and LGBT+-related medical services, as well as creating safe and supportive working conditions for sex workers.

The commemoration of the 2024 World Day of Social Justice serves as a rallying cry for renewed commitment and collective action. By bridging existing divides and forging strategic alliances in support of the Global Coalition for Social Justice, societies can unlock their full potential and pave the way for sustained reductions in poverty and inequality. Moreover, by fostering inclusive growth and social cohesion, these efforts can contribute significantly to peace, stability, and intergenerational solidarity across the region.

In EECA, the imperative to advance social justice transcends mere moral obligation; it is a strategic one and essential for building resilient and equitable societies capable of withstanding the myriad challenges of the 21st century. Adopting a multidimensional approach to protecting the rights of working representatives from key groups will not only ensure equal opportunities in the labor market but also contribute to creating a more just and inclusive society of this diverse region.


Also read:

Tajikistan has taken the first step to protect the rights and eliminate discrimination of citizens living with HIV

Drug policy of zero tolerance and double standard practices. ENPUD analytical paper on the situation in Kazakhstan

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Victory in the protection of privacy: the history of dormitory housing in Uzbekistan

In today’s world, ensuring the protection of individual rights and freedoms is an integral part of our society. Recently, an incident occurred in one of the dormitories in Uzbekistan that raised the important issue of protecting women’s privacy rights.

Zhon (name changed), a resident of the dormitory, was confronted with an order from the head of the dormitory prohibiting men from entering the women’s rooms. This order contradicted basic principles and violated women’s right to privacy. Together with the lawyer, she filed an application to the prosecutor’s office and an appeal to the head of the dormitory to cancel this absurd order.

Thanks to the client’s active position and legal support, the prosecutor’s office explained to the head that such an order was a direct violation of the constitutional rights of Uzbek citizens. The incident was successfully resolved, and now women in the dormitory can meet with friends without unreasonable obstacles.

It is important to remember that the protection of women’s rights to privacy is an integral part of respect for human dignity. This case reminded everyone of the importance of protecting the personal freedoms of every citizen.

Original Source (in Russian)


Also read:

Fighting for privacy: personal data protection in Uzbekistan

Let’s stop discrimination: protecting children’s rights in kindergartens in Uzbekistan

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Let’s stop discrimination: protecting children’s rights in kindergartens in Uzbekistan

Nowadays, the obligation to discuss and protect the rights of every individual, especially those who influence the future – children – comes to the forefront. Recently, Guli (name changed) turned to REActors for help, as her child was excluded from kindergarten due to the status of the mother.

Unfortunately, the child was a victim of stigmatization. Together with the client, an application and appeal to the prosecutor’s office was filed to protect the child’s rights and hold the kindergarten staff responsible for discrimination.

Thanks to legal support and active efforts in fighting for the rights of the child, the prosecutor’s office worked with the head of the kindergarten and the responsible employee involved in the disclosure of the mother’s status. The child was reinstated in his rights to education and the employee who violated the child’s rights was dismissed.

The incident was settled amicably, given the client’s desire to avoid publicity and scandal. It is important to note that the protection of children’s rights is one of the key principles of justice in society. Such cases of discrimination must be addressed and stopped promptly so that every child has equal opportunities for education and development.

Original Source (in Russian)


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Fighting for privacy: personal data protection in Uzbekistan

Isolation, denial and victory: the case in a dental clinic in Kazakhstan

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Response stories

Fighting for privacy: personal data protection in Uzbekistan

In today’s world, ensuring the security of personal data and respect for human dignity are becoming key aspects. Mansur (name changed), faced with a violation of his rights and privacy, raised the issue of improper disclosure of his status to his neighbors, which led to threats of eviction from his living quarters.

Working together with the client, REActor filed a complaint to the N* Uzbekistan Committee. The staff member responsible for the breach of confidentiality was summoned for clarification and presented with the relevant document on the violation of the law. He admitted his mistake, apologized, wrote a resignation letter, and then a meeting was held to emphasize the inadmissibility of disclosing personal health data.

The incident was successfully resolved, but to avoid further conflict, the client decided to change his residence. This case highlighted the importance of protecting personal information and supporting those facing similar breaches.

Protecting privacy is not only a matter of legality but also a matter of respect for each individual. Similar situations must be addressed and resolved with the protection of the rights and dignity of each individual in mind.

Original Source (in Russian)


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Denial of hospitalization: story of the fight against discrimination and stigma in Kazakhstan

Isolation, denial and victory: the case in a dental clinic in Kazakhstan

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Response stories

Isolation, denial and victory: the case in a dental clinic in Kazakhstan

The symptoms of periodontitis forced Saule (name changed) to seek help at a dental clinic recommended by a friend. However, at the first visit, the doctor began to investigate not only the condition of her teeth but also Saule’s HIV and hepatitis status. Upon learning of her infectious diagnosis, the doctor refused treatment, citing “inability to provide services” because of Saule’s status.

The girl’s surprise increased when her friend, who had applied for a similar service, received it without problems. When Saule learned that the doctor not only refused treatment but also advised her friend to stop communicating, citing contagiousness, she decided to look into the situation.

The doctor argued that the clinic lacked the necessary equipment, tools, and protective clothing to work with HIV-positive people. Faced with such discrimination, the girl turned to REActor for support, who provided an HIV training module and explained Saule’s rights.

The next day, the REActor visited the clinic and spoke with the doctor about the inadmissibility of disclosing information about HIV-positive patients and the obligations of medical staff towards HIV-positive people.

The clinic apologized, provided dental care to Saule, and ensured that such violations would not happen again.

This story emphasizes the importance of respecting patients’ rights, denouncing discrimination, and the need to educate medical staff about HIV infection. Fighting for equal rights to health care is a key element in creating an inclusive and tolerant healthcare environment.


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Denial of hospitalization: story of the fight against discrimination and stigma in Kazakhstan

Eviction from a dormitory due to HIV+ status in Kazakhstan

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Response stories

Fighting for rights: confronting discrimination based on TB in Kazakhstan

The story of Marat (name changed), an electrician from Kazakhstan, was a testament to injustice and discrimination in the workplace due to illness. The difficulties began when his health deteriorated, leading to a diagnosis of tuberculosis. However, when he returned to work after successful treatment, he was in for an unpleasant surprise.

For the past two months, Marat had been experiencing severe symptoms of TB: coughing, fever, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Concerned about his condition, he went to the doctor, which eventually led to the diagnosis. After active treatment and return to work, Marat faced dismissal due to TB and denial of benefits.

Intervening in the situation, the REActor and the TB lawyer advocated on Marat’s side. They visited the company, negotiated with the director, and explained the laws governing temporary disability and workers’ rights. Referring to the Government Decree and Article 55 of the Labor Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, they emphasized the unacceptability of dismissal due to TB.

As a result of successful negotiations, Marat was reinstated at work and paid one month’s temporary disability allowance. The director pledged to avoid similar violations in the future.

This story emphasizes the need to respect workers’ rights and the inadmissibility of discrimination based on illness. Confronting such situations requires awareness of rights, strong intervention by public bodies, and an unwavering fight for labor justice. Everyone, regardless of their health, deserves respect and equality in the workplace.


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Denial of hospitalization: story of the fight against discrimination and stigma in Kazakhstan

Eviction from a dormitory due to HIV+ status in Kazakhstan

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Response stories

Denial of hospitalization: story of the fight against discrimination and stigma in Kazakhstan

It all started with Ruslan’s (name changed) HIV test, which turned out to be positive. According to the preliminary agreement with the REActor, a visit to the AIDS center was scheduled to confirm the diagnosis. However, on that day the situation took an unexpected turn.

Ruslan was found by the REActor in an extremely serious condition, experiencing intense pain. The client reported that he had already asked for an ambulance the day before, but had been refused. The REActor called the ambulance again but also faced a negative reaction from the medical staff. They treated the man with disdain (Ruslan was from a community of people who use drugs and had no permanent residence at the time of the call), believing that he did not need hospitalization and expressing displeasure with his smell.

Despite the difficulties, the REActor insisted on hospitalization, taking full responsibility for the client. Eventually, after much persuasion, Ruslan was still taken to the emergency hospital. Immediately thereafter, the REActor contacted the superintendent, summoning an ambulance crew and holding a meeting about the unacceptable treatment and discrimination of patients.

However, after being discharged from the hospital, a new challenge arose – refusal to register for dispensary registration at the City AIDS Center due to lack of attachment to the polyclinic. Again, the REActor took on the problem, providing support with documents and ensuring that he was attached to a polyclinic.

Ruslan underwent all the necessary tests at the AIDS Center and started antiretroviral therapy (ART).

This story demonstrates how stigma and discrimination create additional difficulties for patients, depriving them of their right to quality medical care. Thanks to the perseverance and determination of the REActor, stereotypes and discrimination were countered. This case became a call to combat negative stereotypes, raise awareness among medical staff, and create a tolerant environment where every patient can expect impartial and quality care, regardless of their status or circumstances.


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Alarming trends against the background of domestic violence: the story of Lana from Georgia

Violence against a sex worker in Armenia and her legal support

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Response stories

Overcoming stigma and discrimination in maternity hospitals in Kazakhstan

In the world of medicine, despite the high standards of professionalism imposed, there is 

sometimes a problem of stigmatization by healthcare providers towards their patients, especially those from key populations. This internal stigma can manifest itself in the form of biased opinions, lack of empathy, avoidance, and even disclosure of confidential information. Such behavior constitutes moral violence against the person seeking help and should not go unnoticed or unpunished. Before International AIDS Day on December 1, it is particularly important to remember that stigma creates barriers to effective prevention and treatment, and prioritizing efforts to overcome it (including within the medical community) and create a more supportive environment for all is a key factor in achieving the 95-95-95 goals.

Gulmira (name changed), a client living with HIV, went to give birth in a maternity hospital. However, from the very beginning, she encountered an unpleasant attitude on the part of medical staff.

Upon arrival at the facility, she had to repeatedly explain that she was not from a community of people who use drugs and was not a sex worker and that she did not have such friends. But this did not change the situation. During labor, the midwife said that people like Gulmira, «…get sick and give birth to disabled people». And when the process of stitching up after a cesarean section was underway, she told Gulmira: “God forbid you to twitch and I’ll inject you, you’re gonna be in a lot of trouble! I’m tired of running to take tests after people like you”. It was insulting and humiliating. While being transferred to the ward, Gulmira noticed the unkind and curious looks of the nurses. These four days in the maternity ward seemed to her as if she was in some kind of Kunstkammer.

Together with a doctor from the AIDS Center, the REActor decided to intervene. They went to the maternity center and educated the head of the ward, recalling Article 76 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the Health of the People and the Health Care System”, which guarantees the protection of citizens from any form of discrimination and stigmatization due to the presence of any disease.

The REActor also conducted a preventive talk with the medical staff on the topic of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. She emphasized the importance of understanding, supporting, and treating every patient impartially, regardless of their HIV status.

This story emphasizes that stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings can seriously affect a patient’s physical and emotional well-being. The intervention of the REActor and the AIDS Center doctor helped to change attitudes and create a more supportive environment for Gulmira and other people living with HIV.


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The case of a doctor in Moldova: the struggle for tolerance and professional ethics

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

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Response stories

Discrimination based on HIV status in a dental clinic in Armenia

Ashot (name changed), who had been living with HIV for four years and was on antiretroviral therapy (ARV), went to a dental clinic to get implants. He chose this medical facility because it was considered one of the best in the city.

At the consultation with the doctor, Ashot discussed his plans and they agreed on subsequent visits to the clinic. After the consultation, the client was promised a questionnaire. In the process of filling out the questionnaire, Ashot indicated “YES” to the question about HIV infection.

However, the next day, Ashot was refused treatment, namely implantation. An employee of the clinic informed him over the phone that implants are not performed for “patients with AIDS”. This statement became the basis for Ashot’s appeal to the NGO New Generation.

REActors from the NGO New Generation accepted Ashot’s case. A paralegal representing the organization contacted the clinic, introducing himself as a client who wanted to have a tooth extracted. During the conversation, he specified that he was a member of the community of people living with HIV. In response, he was told to report in person to the medical center.

The REActor then forwarded the case to the organization’s lawyer, who is currently investigating the case. New Generation is committed to addressing this discriminatory situation and supporting the rights of people living with HIV.

The case is currently under investigation and the organization’s lawyer is actively working to resolve the case. REActors are also providing support to Ashot in the process of litigation and protection of his rights.

New Generation emphasizes that discrimination based on HIV status is unacceptable and contrary to the principles of equality and human rights. The organization will continue its work to protect the rights and interests of people facing discrimination in the medical field.


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The case of a doctor in Moldova: the struggle for tolerance and professional ethics

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

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Response stories

Breaking down walls of silence: the struggle for sex workers’ rights in Azerbaijan

For the past five years, women facing HIV, sex workers, and those who use drugs in Azerbaijan have been marginalized in the process of preparing and submitting shadow reports to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In the concluding observations on Azerbaijan’s sixth periodic report (2022), CEDAW expressed concern, pointing out that the state relies on non-governmental organizations to provide shelter. The Committee recommended the abolition of penalties against women for prostitution, criminalization of sexual exploitation, and the provision of support programs for those who wish to leave sex work.

Zeinab’s (name changed) story is just one of many such cases. Married at seventeen, she faced difficulties when her husband left for Russia, leaving her alone with a child and no means of livelihood. Attempts to get support from her parents proved futile, and Zeinab was forced to turn to sex work. When her landlord found out about her activities, he demanded that she move out.

It was at this point that REActors intervened after hearing about the situation from other sex workers. Working with the NGO Clean World, they organized a shelter for Zeinab and her child, providing not only shelter and food but also free services for victims of domestic and sexual violence. A lawyer was engaged to resolve the eviction issue. Despite the lack of a lease, sanctions against the landlord were not possible.

Zeinab also began vocational training aimed at her eventual reintegration into society. The shelter provided her with the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to live independently. Despite her difficulties, she remains hopeful for a brighter future.

The challenges facing women in Azerbaijan are often related to early marriage, limited access to education, and high unemployment. Involvement in sex work becomes a frequent response to these factors. It is therefore important to continue to fight for women’s rights and provide support and alternatives for those who want to change their lives. The intervention of NGOs and REActors undoubtedly plays a key role in this process.


Also read:

Protecting the rights of transgender women in Tajikistan

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

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Protecting medical confidentiality in Uzbekistan

The story of a client who faced illegal disclosure of his HIV status by his wife and mother-in-law during divorce proceedings. REActors assisted in restoring his reputation and preventing a breach of medical confidentiality.

There are situations in the world where privacy and health are subjected to illegal actions and unkind acts by loved ones. Oydin’s (name changed) story is one of fighting for his rights and defending his honor when his HIV status becomes the subject of discussion and disclosure during a divorce.

When the client contacted REActors, he found himself in a terrible situation. His wife and mother-in-law were actively spreading false information about him, including information about his HIV status. This was not only damaging to his honor but also represented a serious breach of medical confidentiality. It was important to urgently intervene and help the client restore his reputation and protect his rights.

The first step was to provide the client with psychological support as he needed help and understanding to cope with this difficult situation. The client was then counseled on the rights and responsibilities of people living with HIV and what laws and regulations govern their rights and confidentiality.

The client was then referred to a legal specialist specializing in such cases. Together with the lawyer, a plan of action was developed. An explanatory conversation was held with the relatives who spread false information and told about his HIV status about possible administrative responsibility for disclosure of medical confidentiality. After that, their attacks with slander and dissemination of his HIV status stopped.

Oydin’s story is an example of how REActors help people fight for their rights and protect their honor, especially when faced with violations of medical confidentiality. The combined efforts of the client, psychologist, and lawyer enabled him to restore his reputation and prevent long-term damage to his life. This story is a reminder of the importance of protecting privacy and a person’s right to medical confidentiality.

Original Source (in Russian)


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Protecting the rights of transgender women in Tajikistan

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

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Response stories

Ali’s story: overcoming barriers to accessing health care in Kazakhstan

Ali (name changed), a man living with HIV and Hepatitis C, approached REActor based on a previous successful counseling experience. This time, the situation required an intervention in accessing medical care.

From the outset, Ali encountered difficulties at the polyclinic, where he was denied Hepatitis C testing and treatment due to lack of insurance. Not only that, but the front desk staff was dismissive and arrogant because of his HIV status.

The REActor provided a detailed counseling session, explaining to Ali his rights as a representative of PLHIV community patient. He highlighted the treatment algorithm for hepatitis C, classifying it as a socially significant disease that falls under the guaranteed scope of free medical care.

Accompanying Ali to the polyclinic for primary health care (PHC), the REActor met with the receptionists. After a detailed conversation, incompetence, and denial of treatment for Hepatitis C, despite its inclusion in the guaranteed scope of free medical care at PHC, was revealed.

REActor emphasized that hepatitis C is a socially significant disease in the list of the Republic of Kazakhstan and falls under free treatment. The situation was resolved and the patient is now being evaluated for further treatment for hepatitis C.

This story emphasizes the importance of active support from REActors in removing barriers and ensuring equal access to health services for all, regardless of health status.


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Overcoming stigma and discrimination in maternity hospitals in Kazakhstan

Fighting stereotypes and fears: the story of Sylvia from Moldova

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Response stories

Criminal proceedings of the case on trans* person’s beating continue in Armenia

On August 18, 2022, H.A. had been walking in one of the streets of Vanadzor city, when two strangers approached her. The strangers immediately attacked H.A. and beat her hitting on different parts of her body. Then, they took out a knife, held it at H.A. and threatened her to leave the city as she’s a trans* woman and it’s a shame for them to have her in their city. They also threatened to kill the person if she didn’t leave. H.A. called the police. The police arrived at the scene and took everybody to the police department. However, the police materials don’t contain the data of the offenders. During reporting about the case at the police station, the police officers didn’t allow the victim to make calls or mention about her injuries in her report.  

By the decision of August 22, 2022, of A. A. Vermishyan, first counsellor, investigator of the Lori regional Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, the case of beating H.A. at location called Lcher in the night of June 5 and morning of June 6, 2022 and the case of August 18th beating were united. 

According to the decision of August 27, 2022, of A.G. Tsakhkloryan, investigator of the Lori regional Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, H.A. was recognized as a victim. 

H.A. applied to NGNGO a month after the incident. NGNGO provided the applicant with assistance, and compiled a complaint against the human rights violation committed by police officers during taking the report from the victim. H.A. was provided with a referral for forensic examination. 

Since January 2023 New Generation NGO attorney A. Zalyan took up the case.  

In 2023, the cases united by the decision of August 22, 2022, were again separated, and are examined within different proceedings. 

The preliminary investigations of the cases continue. 

New Generation NGO will provide additional information about the further progress of the cases. 

Original Source


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Combating Discrimination Against Children with HIV in Kazakhstan Educational Institutions

Progress in Addressing Discrimination and Promoting HIV Awareness in North Macedonia

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Response stories

Fighting for rights and justice in Armenia: a story in a hostel

In the summer, MA (name changed) came to the city for a week for work. To save money, he rented a bunk bed in a hostel in District XX. According to MA, he chose this particular hostel because all the people there are foreigners and only the administrator is Armenian. At the time of check-in, the client paid the full amount for the week. The man liked the atmosphere among the hostel residents, there were mostly young people from India and Iran. In the evening, everyone consumed alcoholic beverages together and got to know each other, and MA decided to take a shower before going to bed. The shower room was shared and when he went in there was an Iranian man about 26 years old. The Iranian explained by gestures that he wanted to have sex and MA agreed. After having sex in the shower room, the client went to sleep, early in the morning he left the hostel for his business.

In the evening when he returned to the hostel, the receptionist told the man to pack his belongings immediately and leave the hostel. When MA asked what happened, the receptionist said that he had seen everything during the night and that such an infectious gay (in foul language) could not stay there anymore and spoil the reputation. MA realized there was no point in arguing, and asked the admin for a refund for 6 days while he packed his stuff. He abruptly refused and started berating MA again because of his orientation and age (the client is over 50). MA packed his things, left the hostel, and called the REActor. He told the client not to go anywhere and to wait for him outside the hostel. After about 20 minutes, the paralegal was there. Also, he checked the establishment on the Internet but found no information about it at all.

He and the client entered the hostel, the paralegal introduced himself as a human rights defender and that he and MA were going to go to the police and write a report against the administrator. The latter replied that they could go. Then REActor added that he had googled the name of the hostel and found no information and that he would write in the statement that the hostel should be checked by the tax service. The administrator was confused and offered to sit down while he called the owner. After 5 minutes he came back with a phone and told the REActor that the host wanted to talk to him. The paralegal explained the situation, that they were going to go to the police to write a statement for defamation, for discrimination, for refusing to return the money for unlived days, to make the hostel pass the tax audit, because when MA paid for a week, the administrator did not give him a check, and added that there would be a scandal on social networks. The host apologized, said there was a misunderstanding, that MA was free to live there, and as compensation offered to include breakfast for MA on the other 6 days. REactor and MA discussed the offer and he agreed. On leaving, the paralegal told the administrator that if he behaved any further inappropriately in any way, he would be back, but with police officers. During the night, the MA sent a text message saying he was fine.

The next day in the evening he called and said that in the morning the administrator was very polite, but in the evening when MA returned to the hostel another administrator was working there and it turned out that the previous one had been fired.


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Progress in Addressing Discrimination and Promoting HIV Awareness in North Macedonia

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Response stories

Progress in Addressing Discrimination and Promoting HIV Awareness in North Macedonia

In North Macedonia, significant strides have been made in addressing cases of discrimination and promoting HIV awareness. This update highlights some noteworthy developments in this regard.

Resolution of Discriminatory Practices

One notable case from the previous year involved the mandatory HIV testing of foreign students by a public university in the Republic of North Macedonia. The Association «Stronger Together» took proactive steps by submitting a petition to the Commission for Prevention of and Protection against Discrimination, citing violations of the Anti-Discrimination Law.  This case has been successfully resolved in a positive manner: the university responded by revising its discriminatory requirements for foreign students, ensuring fair and equal treatment.

Collaboration with the Clinic for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Further progress was achieved through collaboration. On June 6th, the Association «Stronger Together» conducted its inaugural workshop in partnership with the Clinic for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The workshop aimed to educate medical professionals about HIV prevention and patients’ rights. This initiative was made possible due to the positive resolution of a previous case and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between «Stronger Together» and the Clinic.

These developments signify North Macedonia’s commitment to combating discrimination and enhancing awareness about HIV within the country. Such collaborative efforts and the resolution of discriminatory cases serve as important steps towards a more inclusive and informed society.

As North Macedonia continues its journey towards promoting equality and public health, it is evident that positive changes are taking place, thanks to the collective efforts of organizations like the Association «Stronger Together» and their partners.


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Response stories

Defending the rights of LGBTIQ+ activists in Kazakhstan: Danara’s story

The story of Danara (name changed), a 25-year-old queer woman and LGBT activist, was a powerful example of the struggle for rights and non-discrimination in the workplace. The incident highlighted the importance of equal opportunities for all, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Situation:

Danara had been working in theatre for several years and feared autism as she openly expressed her sexual orientation on social media, where she shared photos of her relationships and attended rallies.

The day everything changed while packing for work, Danara received a message from a colleague who asked if she had seen the material, he had sent to the theatre’s general chat room, which consisted of about 50-100 employees of various positions.

When asked by Danara what the material was, the colleague forwarded the messages to her, complete with photos taken from her personal social media page that revealed her sexual orientation. The colleague wrote a tirade accusing her of rude and aggressive behavior at work and describing her as an “LGBT activist”, claiming that she promoted lesbian values and painted female genitals even in the props of a theatre production she was managing.

Moreover, the colleague gave an ultimatum to his colleagues: either Danara leaves the theatre or he refuses to cross her threshold by referring to her as an “LGBT activist”.

Actions and REAction:

Danara came to work, and her colleagues became supportive. They expressed their outrage at the abuser’s unethical behavior and referred to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan and articles relating to freedom of speech. They offered her the assistance of a lawyer and publicly noted the inadmissibility of discrimination.

The abuser was quickly removed from the work chat room and dismissed from her job for breach of corporate ethics and unacceptable discrimination in the workplace.

Psychological support was provided to support Danara and human rights counselling was provided.

Conclusion:

Danara’s story is an example of the importance of protecting rights and ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation. Discrimination and outings in the workplace should not be tolerated. This case also emphasizes the importance of publicly supporting and fighting for the rights of LGBTIQ+ people in Kazakhstan and globally.


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Combating Discrimination Against Children with HIV in Kazakhstan Educational Institutions

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Response stories

Combating Discrimination Against Children with HIV in Kazakhstan Educational Institutions

In our society, there is an obligation to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, regardless of their health or other characteristics. However, even in the modern world, some individuals face discrimination, especially children with HIV-positive status. The story of Ayman (name changed) and her child is just one example of such discrimination, but it is important to highlight the actions taken to protect their rights.

Situation:

Ayman, a single mother, found herself in the need to provide care and education for her child, who also happens to be HIV-positive. She decided to enroll her child in an educational center that offered extended-day services and was conveniently located near their home. The center’s conditions included providing supervision for the child before and after school, meals, assistance with homework, and a focus on educational aspects.

However, when Ayman applied to the educational center, she was denied a contract for educational services due to her child’s HIV-positive status. This refusal left her puzzled and worried, as she did not know where to turn to ensure a safe and caring environment for her child after school.

Actions and REAction:

Ayman and an infectious disease specialist, who provided medical support to her and her family, decided to take action together. They contacted the management of the educational center and invited the staff for an explanatory conversation. During this discussion, several crucial points were addressed:

Modes of HIV Transmission: The infectious disease specialist provided information on how HIV is transmitted and the precautions taken to prevent transmission within educational institutions.

Non-Discriminatory Approach: It was explained that the Republic of Kazakhstan guarantees protection from discrimination based on health or health status. This means that refusing services based on HIV-positive status is unacceptable.

Confidentiality: To protect the child’s confidentiality and medical information, the center’s management was reminded of the strict need to maintain confidentiality and not disclose the child’s diagnosis.

Conclusion:

The joint efforts of Ayman, the infectious disease specialist, and the management of the educational center resulted in the resolution of the situation and the protection of the child’s right to receive educational services. This case underscores the importance of education and public awareness about the rights of HIV-positive citizens and the impermissibility of discrimination based on their health. The pursuit of equality and the protection of every child’s right should be a priority in educational institutions and society as a whole.


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Combating Discrimination Against Children with HIV in Kazakhstan Educational Institutions

Problems of HIV-positive prisoners in Azerbaijan