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Armenian government removes “gender” from law

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Banner from the Armenian organisation Society Without Violence at a Gender Equality Fair in Yerevan. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Julia Lapitskii.

Banner from the Armenian organisation Society Without Violence at a Gender Equality Fair in Yerevan. Photo: Kvinna till Kvinna/Julia Lapitskii.

The Armenian government has approved a bill on amendments to the country’s gender equality law. This after the use of the word “gender” in the law generated massive protests from traditionalist groups as well as the Armenian Apostolic Church. The wording will now be changed to ”equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women”.

20 May the Armenian parliament adopted law number 57 on gender equality, with 108 votes for and one against. But in the end of the summer, campaigns against the use of the word gender in the law started appearing in social networks. Videos connecting gender to pedophelia and bestiality were circulated and gender equality activists were threatened. The groups also claimed that using “gender” as a base for the law, would meen giving “unwaranted benefits to sexual minorities” (i e could be used to promote LGBT rights).

Apparently these tactics worked, because the government has now approved amendments to the law. In a statement,  Artem Asatryan, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, said that in order to avoid dual interpretations, the words  “gender relations” were changed to “equal rights and opportunities for men and women”. Artem Asatryan said that Armenia has adopted the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Dicrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and pledged to pursue a policy of non-discrimination against women , but that the term gender does not apply in that context.

The amendments has been sent to the parliament, which will consider the bill during the fall.

In an earlier comment, one of the activists targeted in the anti-gender campaigns, Lara Aharonian from Women’s Resource Center, said that this whole affair has been used by certain decision-makers to score political points, since it is easy in Armenia to mobilize the masses against LGBT persons.

Julia Lapitskii/Malin Ekerstedt