Activists talk: Lilit Martirosyan


This year, within the framework of Pride Month, we prepared an online campaign involving LGBT activists who speak about their activist experience and share stories of their activism. Articles and short videos will be published based on video interviews with activists involved in the online campaign.  

Our first guest was trans woman activist Lilit Martirosyan, the founder and chairperson of “Right Side” NGO. 

Lilit Martirosyan was aware of her gender identity from the age of 13. Living in the village was difficult for her, so she left it and moved to Yerevan. After moving to Yerevan, Lilit started volunteering in civil society organizations. After that, inspired by Harvey Milk’s human rights activities, she decided to get involved in the human rights protection process for LGBT people.  

As an activist, Lilit has set several goals for herself. Her biggest goal is to make Armenia a fully democratic country through her work in human rights protection. By the expression ‘democratic country,’ we mean a country where a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity are accepted, and any form of discrimination is excluded. According to Lilit, she can achieve this goal only through activism, working towards solving the problems of LGBT people. 

One of Lilit’s goals is to solve the issue of legal gender recognition in the Republic of Armenia, as the level of discrimination is higher due to its absence. To improve the lives of trans people, Lilit aims to initiate other steps as well – providing trans people with hormone therapy, having access to medical services, and taking steps to reduce the level of transphobia.  

Lilit is also worried about the safety of human rights defenders and activists. As a result of struggling on the front line, human rights defenders and activists are repeatedly subjected to violence, and public displays of hate speech on social media, which indicates that the state still does not adequately ensure the inviolability of human rights defenders. Having witnessed this problem, Lilit notes that the support of the state plays an essential role in protecting LGBT people’s rights. With the state’s support, it is possible to reduce repressions against activists and human rights defenders. 

Lilit considers cooperation with state bodies to be essential in the sense that, through such collaboration, legislative reforms related to the protection of the human rights of LGBT people can be implemented, which is very important in the case of Armenia because due to legislative gaps cases of discrimination based on SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) are still not adequately investigated. 

During Lilit’s activism, success took time to come. She was repeatedly discriminated against and subjected to violence; however, not being afraid of challenges, she continued to engage in activism. Among her activist achievements, Lilit singles out the facilitation of the legal name change practice of trans people in Armenia, which she achieved in cooperation with state bodies. “This may seem a small achievement, but such victories give me strength. If the LGBT community didn’t exist, these victories would not have happened,” mentions Lilit in her speech. 

Lilit states that activism relates to humanity and solidarity. She associates activism with strength and withstanding challenges and believes that to be an activist, you must be extremely strong. Philanthropy is the primary motivation for Lilit to engage in activism. She notes that her mission is to help people, which is directly related to her work and activism. “If I do not love people, I can’t deal with human rights,” says Lilith, showing the explicit connection between humanity and human rights. 

As an activist, Lilit has her vision for the future. She dreams that one day Armenia will be a country where discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity will be excluded and where every person can love and be loved. Lilit also wants transgender people to be able to live with their families because they mostly live abandoned by their families in an atmosphere of non-acceptance. 

Activism is Lilit’s greatest strength and motivation, and to achieve her goals, she is ready to constantly fight for the protection of the human rights of LGBT people, enduring challenges and obstacles.