The fight for the rights and inclusion of LGBTQ+ people has made significant strides worldwide. More societies across the globe are embracing diversity and recognizing the fundamental rights of every human being regardless of sexual orientation.
Despite the progress attained in advancing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, however, widespread discrimination and hostility that hinders LGBTQ+ people from expressing their sexuality still exists.
Queer Sista Platform, one of Global Fund for Children’s youth-led grassroots partners in Armenia, works to promote and protect the rights of lesbian and bisexual womxn* and queer* and trans* people. Working in an often challenging and repressive environment, the organization hosts different queer initiatives and creates a safe space for self-expression and self-organization, as well as for collective, peer, and professional support.
“Being a woman is very hard here and being a woman with a non-heterosexual orientation is even harder,” said Aida Marukyan, a team member of the Queer Sista Platform.
“Lesbian and bisexual womxn* and queer* and trans* people face double discrimination, firstly because of gender identity and expression, and secondly because of their sexual orientation,” she added. “As a platform, we are trying to change this and significantly contribute to the queer narrative or discourse.”
While feminist and LGBTQ+ movements are growing and the rights of marginalized groups are being recognized worldwide, lesbian and bisexual womxn* and queer* and trans* people still face discrimination and violence in many countries.
Aida explained that one of the challenges the organization has faced over the years is the constant need to justify its existence. Queer Sista Platform often receives questions from LGBTQ+ groups, feminist movements, and other groups on why they are separating lesbian and bisexual womxn* and queer* and trans* people from the already existing LGBTQ+ or women’s movements.
“The answer is simple! Most of these movements have a one-size-fits-all approach but our needs are different,” Aida explained.
“The feminist or women’s rights movements are very hetero-centric and mostly talking about cis heterosexual women’s issues while the LGBTQ+ movements are mostly occupied by cis gay men’s issues and the LBQ women issues are never there,” she added.
In Armenia, as in many other countries, LGBTQ+ people face harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In response, Queer Sista Platform provides short-term career development and orientation courses for the community to empower them with requisite skills to improve their lives.
The stigma and hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community in societies across the world has also given rise to mental health challenges. As part of its efforts to contribute to the wellbeing and self-care culture within its community, Queer Sista Platform runs Queer Home, a safe and inclusive space for the community. Queer Home serves as a hub to hold meetings and discussions, as well as providing co-working and self-care spaces where the community comes together and supports each other. The organization has also produced a comprehensive self-care and wellbeing handbook to help the community.
Queer Sista Platform is a partner in the Spark Fund, a youth-led fund that invests in youth-led and youth-focused groups tackling important issues such as inequality, climate change, and mental health. GFC launched the Spark Fund pilot program in 2021 with financial support from Avast, and a group of ten youth panelists aged 18-30 from Europe and Eurasia designed and led the grantmaking process in this region. They selected 12 organizations in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine to receive Spark Fund grants, including Queer Sista Platform.
Queer Sista Platform applauded GFC for being one of the funders that “prioritize the people rather than numbers.” The organization noted that the flexibility of the Spark Fund grants has given Queer Sista Platform an opportunity to do activities that meet community needs.
Queer Sista Platform also works to promote a culture of solidarity and inclusivity within its community to foster a sense of belonging and to continuously amplify the voices of lesbian and bisexual womxn* and queer* and trans* people on different platforms.
Header photo: One of the materials on display at Queer Home. © Queer Sista Platform
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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