While Germany celebrates the passage of same-sex marriage, another European nation is taking baby steps toward equality: Armenia has begun recognizing same-sex marriages performed abroad.
In an email to PanArmenian.Net, the Ministry of Justice indicated that marriage certificates registering the legal union of two people abroad are valid in the country after consular legalization, regardless of the participants’ gender.
That makes Armenia only the second former Soviet country after Estonia to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad.
Homosexuality has been legal since 2003, but the subject is still taboo in Armenian society, which is heavily influenced by the Apostolic Church. Many LGBT people remain closeted or face discrimination and violence—a 2012 study indicated 55% of Armenians would reject a friend or relative if they came out.
In 2015, a tabloid outed dozens of LGBT advocates, linking to their Facebook profiles and called on readers to shun them. The victims filed suit, but the court ruled for the paper and made the plaintiffs pay $100 in fees.
“Hate speech in Armenia is rising day by day,” activist Mamikon Hovsepyan, one of the outed journalists, told NewNowNext last year. “The homophobic media has the support of government officials and promotes aggression and hate toward LGBT people.”
Within Armenia itself there is no recognition of same-sex relationships, no anti-discrimination laws, and gay men are declared mentally ill and unfit for military service. In a 2016 IGLA-Europe survey, Armenia was ranked 47 out of 49 European countries for LGBT rights, ahead of only Russia and Azerbaijan.