Activists talk: Lilit Avetisyan


The next participant in our Pride Month online campaign is Lilit Avetisyan. Lilit has been working at Pink human rights defender NGO for years; therefore, activism is a part of her career.  

Years ago, when Lilit became interested in activist ideas and values, she realized that it was all very close to her heart, as she wanted to fight against injustices. Even in her teenage years, she noticed the unfair treatment of students by the teachers at school, which worried her, hence her desire to fight against injustices. 

Later, other issues started to concern Lilit: the problems of people with disabilities, people living with HIV, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. She noticed that society has a differentiated and discriminative attitude towards vulnerable groups, resulting in a feeling of injustice, as she believed that every person needs to feel safe and protected. 

When Lilit started working at the Pink human rights defender NGO, dealing with the problems of vulnerable groups was included in her activist agenda. At Pink, Lilit was initially involved as a psychologist-helping professional. While working with LGBT people as a helping professional, she noticed many problems among helping professionals, as they usually avoided working with LGBT people. Witnessing this problem, Lilit also got involved in program coordination processes. During this time, she was engaged in increasing the visibility of LGBT people among helping professionals, and the programs were aimed at familiarizing professionals with the nuances of working with LGBT people. After that, many professionals began to seek Lilit’s help, asking for literature and information related to working with LGBT people, and Lilit was happy to provide them with relevant information. Naturally, all this had a stimulating effect among the helping professionals, and the circle of specialists began to expand. 

Lilit characterizes being an activist as a set of substantive goals and steps resulting in explicit reforms taking place in society. Among such reforms for Lilit was increasing the visibility of LGBT people among helping professionals aiding them and involving them in work with LGBT people, thanks to which there are now more than a dozen psychologists working with LGBT people in Armenia. As of 2013, Lilit was one of the few professionals working with LGBT people fearless of being discredited or negatively treated in the professional field and took their fight forward. Thanks to all of this, we now have a different picture: an extended circle of helping professionals which enables LGBT people to receive psychological support quickly. 

Lilit believed that more severe steps need to be taken to combat widespread discrimination against LGBT people. She switched from a psychologist-helping professional to human rights protection during this period. She assumed the position of the president of the Pink human rights defender NGO, having in her vision the protection and advocacy of the human rights of LGBT people.  

In her activist work, Lilit emphasizes raising awareness about LGBT people and the possibility of cooperation among state and international bodies because these steps play a significant role in filling legislative gaps. As for public awareness processes, Lilit has made many public appearances both as an activist and a human rights defender and believes that public awareness events play a crucial role in changing public opinion about LGBT people. 

Lilit characterizes activism as people’s urge not to be indifferent to injustices, which, in her opinion, unites all activists. She notes that although each activist has their own experience, activists’ ideas are connected on many issues, which is very important because solidarity is often tremendous support for activists.  

As an activist visionary, Lilit considers it realistic to see a future where activists will not feel alone in their struggle and will know that their work will never be left unfinished thanks to the support and solidarity of other activists, due to which they will be able to make reality better.