Meeting with legal expert Haykuhi Harutynyan

On May 30, 2017 within the frames of the “Promoting the human rights of LGBTI people in the Armenian society” project “New Generation” Humanitarian NGO organized a meeting with Haykuhi Harutyunyan, legal expert of the project. 

The project is implemented by “Public Information and Need of Knowledge”, “Women’s Resource Centre”, “Helsinki Association”, “New Generation”, “Socioscope” Societal Research and Consultancy Centre and “Bekum” Democracy Support Centre organizations with the financial support of the USAID.

During the meeting the expert presented current results of examination of national legal documents on blood donation, sex reassignment surgeries and legal gender recognition of LGBTI people, in particular she talked about investigated in-state and international legal documents and their comparative analysis.

International standards and tendencies

The study of the international standards and tendencies reveals the main issue for the blood donation. There is a special policy for the blood donation defined as “permanent deferral” and “temporary deferral”.
1.1. Permanent deferral: Donors cannot be re-admitted for donation within the regulations in force and, thus, will be subject to lifelong deferral from blood donation.
1.2. Temporary deferral: Donors can be re-admitted for donation within the regulations in force provided that the conditions defined by the donor-selection rules in force are met;

According to the available medical studies focus on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) there is a varying risk of acquiring a transfusion-relevant infection and that, for some serious infections such as HIV and hepatitis B virus (HBV), this risk considerably depends on the sexual behaviour of the donor. Based on this, the forms of sexual behaviour, referred to herein as “risky sexual behaviour” the persons concerned by such behaviour, and observing that, according to the epidemiological data available on the prevalence and incidence of sexually transmitted infections, persons engaging in male-to-male sexual acts and sex workers in many European countries are at the upper end of the risk scale for acquiring HIV and other sexually transmitted transfusion-relevant infections, with this risk classification being totally independent of sexual orientation per se. Permanent deferral policy applies against the persons identified as with the “risky sexual behaviour”.
Currently, some lobbing and advocacy efforts are taken at the international level to remove this ban for the blood donation, however, no changes of the international standards are adopted.
International standards
Within the reporting period the documents of the Council of Europe were studied, such as
1․Regulations of the Council of Europe
1․1․ Resolution CM/Res(2013)3 on sexual behaviours of blood donors that have an impact on transfusion safety (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 27 March 2013 at the 1166th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies ). This document describes the donors and the risks related to donors for the blood donation. The donor selection aims at preventing the transmission of infections to patients, and that decisions for donor selection should be proportionate to risk and based on epidemiological data in order to ensure sustained safety of the blood supply.
1․2․ Resolution CM/Res(2008)5 on donor responsibility and on limitation to donation of blood and blood components (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 12 March 2008 at the 1021st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies ).
This document establishes the duties of the member countries and principles for the collection of the blood components to ensure the safe blood donors and remedy for the cases when harm is caused to the recipient.
1․3․Guide to the quality and safety of organs for transplantation.
This Guide contains the instructions considered to be the “minimum standards” state “what must be done” by the states outside the EU that are considering adopting EU requirements on Organ Transplantation.
1.4. Guide to the preparation, use and quality assurance of blood components Recommendation No. R (95) 15 18th Edition
This document includes information on the “why and how” for work in blood establishments and hospital blood banks; it also provides detailed information on specific areas of relevance to blood establishments and hospital blood banks.
National legislation
The study on the national legislation includes 13 legal acts regulating the area of the blood donation and blood donation, sex reassignment surgeries.  

Within the frames of the “Promoting the human rights of LGBTI people in the Armenian society” project “New Generation” will advocate for recognizing the blood donation regulations unconstitutional and cancelation of Articles 139 and 140 of the Criminal Code of Armenia regarding sexual orientation, and will draft a law on sex reassignment surgeries and legal gender recognition.

As it is expected, at the end of the project the discriminatory restriction in the blood donation regulation will be excluded; the law on sex change and legal gender recognition will be drafted and presented to the NA for adoption, as well as the expression “homo-addicted actions” will be removed from the relevant articles of the Criminal Code of RA.