Showing strength: International Transgender Day of Visibility

March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, which is dedicated to supporting, recognizing, and raising awareness of the rights of transgender people around the world. It is a time to raise important issues related to the transgender community and stimulate public dialog about the importance of respect and equality.

In the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region, the visibility and rights situation for transgender people remains complex and multifaceted. Laws and policies in individual countries restrict community rights, including access to health care, gender reassignment, and protection from discrimination. In 2023 alone, national REActors documented 1,109 complaints from members of the LGBTIQ community in the region. The most common violations of the rights of transgender people are discrimination, insults, harassment, threats, and, alas, often it even comes to attacks. An example happened in Armenia with a transgender girl, an activist, and an employee of a local NGO. While testing and counseling a client for HIV, she was attacked by a stranger. With the participation of REActors, it was possible to record the facts of the crime and ensure the initiation of a criminal case. Another egregious case occurred in Tajikistan – a transgender woman was detained without reason by law enforcement officials and her personal belongings were confiscated. Interrogations began. This put the victim in an extremely difficult situation. REActors were able to provide legal defense by finding a lawyer willing to take on the case and defend her rights. They were also able to raise the necessary funds for the client to leave the country safely. Thanks to their support, after two months, the case was closed and the belongings were returned.

The fight to protect the rights of transgender people in the EECA region remains relevant and important. A lot of work is still needed, but the situation is gradually changing for the better, mainly due to the active role of transgender people themselves in this process. They invest a great deal of interest in creating changes that directly affect their lives and well-being (because for the majority of authorities, who are usually people who are not uncomfortable with gender conformity, alas, these issues may seem less important or irrelevant). Local non-governmental organizations and community groups are also actively working for the benefit of transgender people in the EECA region, providing them with support, information, and protection from discrimination and violence. These efforts play an important role in raising awareness and creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender people. It is important to continue to mobilize public opinion, give support to the transgender community, and work to create laws and policies that protect their rights and dignity.

On International Transgender Day of Visibility, each of us can do something important to show our support. Here are a few ways you can do that:

1. Education and awareness: learn more about transgender issues, history, and the fight for transgender people’s rights. The more we know, the better we can support their fight for equal rights and opportunities.

2. active listening and support: listen to the stories and experiences of transgender people without judgment. Support them by expressing your support and solidarity. Have an open dialog and be willing to listen to their needs and experiences.

3.         Participate in events: take part in events to commemorate International Transgender Day of Visibility. These can be rallies, public lectures, marches, or other events to raise awareness and support for the transgender community.

4. Utilize social media: share transgender people’s stories, relevant articles, and resources to spread the word about March 31 and the importance of supporting this community.

5.         Financial support: support organizations and charities working to benefit the transgender community. You can make donations or participate in fundraisers to help fund support and advocacy programs.

6.         Fight for rights: engage in active resistance to discrimination and violence against transgender people. Support legislative initiatives and policies to protect their rights and ensure equality before the law.

7.         Respect Identity: respect and recognize everyone’s gender identity. Use correct pronouns and respect their choice of name and expression of their gender.

Showing support and solidarity with transgender people is an important step towards creating a society where everyone can feel respected and protected, regardless of gender identity.

Also read:

March 8 in Eastern Europe and Central Asia: the struggle for the rights of women from vulnerable groups continues

HIV Criminalization Awareness Day: fighting for justice and understanding

News Response stories

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.

Family, relatives300
Hate group175
Husband/wife, intimate partner137
Other specialised doctor, NOT related to HIV/AIDS and TB101
Client of sex worker82
Representative of the same key group72
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
Migration service (state service15
Border guards13
Media and journalists13

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


Celebrating diversity and resilience: NGO National Trans Coalition (Armenia) marks World Tolerance Day and Anniversary

On November 16, World Tolerance Day is commemorated globally, a day that holds special significance for the National Trans Coalition Human Rights NGO (NTC) as it coincides with the organization’s anniversary. Under the theme “Celebrate diversity!”, this year’s event convened approximately 200 representatives from state institutions, diplomatic missions, international and local organizations, communities, and various stakeholders.

The commemoration began with welcoming speeches and congratulatory notes, followed by the NTC team presenting the organization’s accomplishments over the past year. They shared the annual report, highlighting statistics on human rights violations, instances of stigma and discrimination, as well as cases of violence stemming from intolerance. After the formal segment of the event, participants engaged in treatment sessions, free-flowing conversations, and discussions.

The primary focus of NTC remains the eradication of intolerance directed towards trans*, non-binary, and gender-diverse individuals in Armenia. As the organization celebrates another year of resilience, unity, and solidarity, they take a moment to reflect on those lost, acknowledging their strength in the face of adversity. A firm commitment is made to combat transphobia, aspiring to contribute to the creation of a better, safer, and more inclusive world for everyone.

Expressing gratitude for the journey thus far, the NTC remains steadfast in its dedication to the cause and a home for many.

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Addressing legal barriers and advocating for HIV decriminalization: insights from REAct’s data

Through the lens of REAct’s work: PrEP in the context of human rights, key populations, and access challenges

Response stories

Fighting for one’s rights and the rights of others: the story of an attack on a trans woman in Armenia

One summer day in the life of Karine (name changed), an event occurred that was a testament to her courage. Karine, a trans woman, activist, and employee of the NGO New Generation, was working to provide HIV testing and counseling. However, she faced a challenge that she had to take on.

While doing her job, Karine was attacked by a stranger. The man, possibly after learning that Karine was a trans woman, began to insult her and interfere with her HIV prevention activities. Despite the aggression and threats, the NGO New Generation staff decided to keep their cool and leave the testing site.

However, at that moment the situation took an even more frightening turn. The attacker didn’t just stop at words. He attacked Karine, inflicting grievous bodily harm. The person being tested rushed away from the scene, leaving Karine alone. However, the client did not give up in the face of aggression. She immediately contacted the police, and law enforcement officials arrived at the scene. The attacker was detained and a criminal case was opened. It is unclear at this stage whether Karine and the attacker were acquaintances or whether it was a random attack.

Legal support for Karine is being provided by an NGO. With the participation of REActors, it was possible to record the crime and ensure the initiation of criminal proceedings. Thanks to the assistance of paralegals, Karine was sent for a forensic medical examination. The criminal case is currently under review.

The story serves as a reminder of the importance of human rights and the protection of those facing violence and discrimination. The client’s fearless behavior and determination raise an important point about the importance of continuing to fight for equal rights and justice. And that everyone can fight for their rights and the rights of others.

Also read:

Protecting the rights of transgender women in Tajikistan

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

Response stories

Protecting the rights of transgender women in Tajikistan

In modern Tajikistan, as in many countries, transgender people face serious violations of their rights, including discrimination and harassment. In this context, we consider a case that illustrates the struggle of the LGBT community in Tajikistan for their rights and freedom.

The story of Renata (name changed) provides an important example. Renata decided to return to her home country from Russia, where she was working and living, in order to change her gender status in a new passport. However, her plans were seriously disrupted upon arrival. Police officers took an interest in her personal life when Renata went to the police station to support her friend who had been detained. After the law enforcers learned that she was transgender, obsessive intense interrogation activities began and her cell phone, which contained many personal details, was seized. Although Renata was subsequently released, they did not return her phone to her and continued to monitor its contents. The client was subsequently invited back to the station and accused of sending pornography, which was actually pictures of the breast surgery process sent to her by her friend.

REActors were able to provide Renata with legal protection by finding a lawyer willing to take on her case and defend her rights. Moreover, Renata did not have sufficient financial means to leave the country, as she did not believe in a positive outcome of the trial. As a consequence, the transgender woman decided to leave her phone and seek help in finding financial means to leave the country. REActors decided to express official support on behalf of the community organization and sent a letter to friendly non-governmental organizations, including ECOM. In response, they expressed their willingness to provide financial support in the amount of 750 USD, which made it possible for Renata to purchase a ticket and leave Tajikistan.

Thanks to the funds received, Renata was able to start a new life in St. Petersburg. Two months later, the case against her was closed and her personal belongings were returned to her and mailed back to Russia. REActors are proud to have been able to help Renata overcome the difficulties she faced and to protect her right to freedom and self-expression according to her own wishes. This case highlights the importance of protecting the rights of transgender people and supporting them in their struggle for equality and freedom.

Renata is currently in Russia, but her life here has become much more difficult due to the introduction of new laws concerning the LGBTQ+ community. These laws create unacceptable conditions for transgender people and members of the LGBTQ+ community in general. In an effort to ensure her safety and a favorable psychosocial state, Renata is looking to relocate to another country where she can live and express herself fully.

Renata expressed her deep gratitude for the support provided by the REActors during difficult moments in her life. This support was crucial for her and enabled her to start a new chapter in her life, protecting her right to freedom and self-expression. Currently in search of a better place for her life, Renata remains in contact with the organization, which continues to support her from afar and stands by her side during this important transition period.

This case highlights the importance of continuing to fight for the rights and freedom of the LGBTQ+ community in different countries, as well as the need to support and protect those who face discrimination and persecution because of their gender and sexual identity.

Also read:

Triumph of Law in Tajikistan: Rustam’s story of fighting for justice

Tajikistan: Overcoming stigma and restoring family relationships

Response stories

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

A direct video message by a pediatrician appeared on social media, expressing hate speech towards the LGBT+ community. He claimed that they are unnatural, suffer from mental illness and that their “stupid propaganda” is inconsistent with physiological laws and Christian values. The doctor expressed this as his personal viewpoint, however, claiming it was an opinion consistent with his status as a specialist.

“People who disagree with my attitude towards homosexuals and all this propaganda that goes against physiological and natural laws and Christian values, let them not support me. We have different values. This is my position on ‘nonsense’. Sexual intercourse, in my opinion, is for the continuation of the human race, not for pleasure. Pleasure is an added incentive for humans to strive to have children and ensure the existence of our species on Earth, not for debauchery and pleasure. I will only support humans when I see that sexual intercourse between two women or two men results in the birth of children. Show me such and then I will change my position. Until then, it is a mental illness to me and such people should go to psychiatrists for treatment. Do not allow yourself to be misled and manipulated. If you do not share my point of view, do not come to me for counseling. I wish you health and mental wellbeing,” the doctor said on his TikTok account. He later held a live stream, continuing to express his anti-LGBT+ views for more than an hour.

The organization “GENDERDOC-M”, which registered and is investigating the case, submitted an application to the Equality Council. According to the decision, further action will be taken to review the incident and establish the appropriate consequences.

Also read:

Protecting the rights of transgender women in Tajikistan

Incident in Moldova with disclosure of medical information

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

Response stories Uncategorized

Armenia: help in fighting blackmail

This year brought an unexpected challenge in the life of Zara (name changed), a transgender woman. Together with her partner, she decided to take an HIV test and the result was positive. Instead of support and sympathy from her significant other, Zara faced shocking blackmail and threats. Her partner threatened to reveal her HIV status and demanded money to keep this personal information private. He swindled $1,500 in local currency and demanded more.

Zara found herself in a difficult situation, not knowing how to proceed. However, thanks to the advice of a kind friend, she turned to REActors for help. This was the turning point that helped Zara to reclaim her rights and regain her dignity.

The help provided by the REActor was incredibly valuable. Through competent counseling and support, Zara realized her rights and was able to regain her self-esteem. Equally importantly, the paralegal acted as a mediator in resolving this difficult situation. During the conversation, he explained to the offender about his illegal actions and what would follow if he did not stop.

After some time and after the intervention of the REActor, the blackmailer realized his illegal actions and returned the money to Zara. This case is an example of how proper information, dialog, and mediation can help people to fight injustice.

Zara’s story highlights the importance of the work of national REActors who come to the rescue in difficult situations and demonstrate that solidarity and knowledge of one’s rights can make a difference in people’s lives.

Also read:

Fighting for a safe birth: the story of a client from Uzbekistan

Problems of HIV-positive prisoners in Azerbaijan

Response stories

Guiding Change: The Role of REActors in Supporting and Protecting LGBTQ People in Armenia

Армения, несмотря на свое членство в Европейской комиссии против дискриминации, сталкивается с глубоко укоренившейся консервативной культурой и традициями, что приводит к стигматизации и дискриминации ЛГБТК-сообщества.

– Законодательство: Армения не имеет законов, которые явно защищали бы ЛГБТК-сообщество от дискриминации на основе сексуальной ориентации или гендерной идентичности. Это создает юридическую неопределенность и препятствует защите и правам ЛГБТК-людей.

– Социальное отношение: В армянском обществе преобладает консервативный подход к вопросам сексуальной ориентации и гендерной идентичности. Гомофобия и трансфобия распространены, и ЛГБТК-люди подвергаются социальному изоляции, преследованию и насилию. Они также часто сталкиваются с дискриминацией на рабочих местах и в учебных заведениях.

– Отсутствие правовой защиты: ЛГБТК-сообщество в Армении сталкивается с ограничениями в доступе к здравоохранению, социальным услугам и юридической защите. Отсутствие правовой защиты означает, что жертвы дискриминации и насилия имеют мало возможностей обратиться за помощью и справедливостью.

– Пропаганда “традиционных ценностей”: в последние годы наблюдается усиление консервативных и националистических групп, которые активно пропагандируют “традиционные ценности” и враждебно относятся к ЛГБТК-сообществу. Они проводят митинги, демонстрации и кампании, которые способствуют стигматизации и дискриминации ЛГБТК-людей.

Отсутствие законодательной защиты, социальные ограничения и препятствия в доступе к правам и услугам создают неблагоприятную среду для ЛГБТК-людей. Однако, благодаря инструментам, таким как РЕАкт, армянское ЛГБТК-сообщество находит поддержку и защиту, способствуя изменениям в общественном мнении.

Предательство и отчуждение

19 января Тигран (имя изменено) – представитель ЛГБТК-сообщества позвонил РЕАктору со слезами и рассказал, что познакомился в Интернете с парнем. Их общение длилось какое-то время, после чего он отправил ему свои интимные фотографии. Однако парень начал шантажировать Тиграна, сказав, что отправит эти снимки его родителям, если он не переведет ему 100 000 драм (около 250 долларов) до конца дня. Пострадавший был вынужден передать эти деньги, но через 2 дня тот потребовал столько же. Такой суммы у клиента уже не было. Тогда шантажист написал отцу Тиграна, что их сын гей и если до конца следующего дня ему не пришлют 200 000 драм, он выложит его интимные фото в интернет. Вместо поддержки, отец пострадавшего избил его и сказал, что такой сын ему не нужен. Тигран, глубоко переживая, решил покончить жизнь самоубийством и направился к мосту. Он позвонил РЕАктору уже оттуда, перед прыжком. РЕАктор уговорил его не делать поспешных решений и, не прерывая связи, направился к нему.

“Ты не один”

На месте он предоставил психологическую помощь и предложил переночевать у себя, так как Тиграну просто не было куда идти. Утром они вместе направились в отделение полиции. Представители органов подшучивали над молодым человеком и не хотели записывать показания. Они говорили, что пока ничего не опубликовано, нужно радоваться и продолжать наслаждаться жизнью. Тогда РЕАктор позвонил на горячую линию и оставил жалобу, после чего им позволили написать заявление. Уже через несколько дней шантажиста нашли, взяли под стражу и провели воспитательную беседу. Он больше не беспокоит пострадавшего. А Тигран вернулся в семью и помирился с отцом.

Проблемы, с которыми сталкивается ЛГБТК-сообщество в Армении, являются серьезными и требуют немедленных действий со стороны общества, правительства и международного сообщества. Но несмотря на сложности, существует надежда на позитивные изменения и прогресс. Общественное мнение играет важную роль в изменении отношения к ЛГБТК-сообществу. Организации и активисты должны продолжать освещать проблемы, связанные с дискриминацией и стигмой, а также работать над повышением осведомленности об этом вопросе. Образовательные программы, мероприятия и кампании могут помочь смягчить предубеждения и создать атмосферу взаимопонимания и уважения.Важно, чтобы все люди осознавали – ЛГБТК-сообщество имеет те же права и заслуживает равных возможностей и защиты. 

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