On February 3, 2023, Utah Global Diplomacy will welcome a group of six Armenian pro LGBTQIA+ nonprofit leaders for a ten day visit to Utah. During this time, they will meet and interact with local nonprofits to learn how to build their organizations and better support the needs of LGBTQIA+ communities in Armenia. This program is part of the U.S. Congressional Open World program. Founded in 1999, Open World programs work to build diplomatic ties with twenty different post Soviet countries by inviting rising leaders to visit the U.S. and explore themes of democracy, anti-corruption, and social equality, among others. Since its foundation, the national program has hosted over 26,000 individuals from the region. Utah Global Diplomacy has hosted more than seven Open World programs from Kososva, Ukraine, Serbia, Romania, Kazakhstan, North Macedonia, and Georgia since 2018.
A Brief Overview:
Armenia is a small mountainous country, (slightly smaller than the State of Maryland) in the southern Caucasus region and experiences hot summers and cold winters, similar to Utah. Nestled between Turkey, Georgia, Iran, and Azerbaijan, Armenia has long stood as the intersection between Europe, Asian, and the Middle East. This has had a significant impact on the rich culture and strong identity held in Armenian music, ceremony, and art. Armenia proudly claims the distinction of being the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion. In 301 AD, Christianity was declared the official religion, and a church was built at Etchmiadzin, which today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Armenians are proud that their homeland is the location of Mount Ararat, which may have been the resting place of Noah’s ark after the flood, and other Biblical events. Music and dance is a significant part of the Armenian identity, with roughly 30,000 recorded folk songs, and dances for various special occasions.
Armenia has a distinct language and alphabet from its neighboring countries. The Armenian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world, being first recorded roughly 3,000 years ago. It currently is categorized in its own language family. Traditional Armenian food shares culinary characteristics of the region like lamb, eggplant, yogurt, and most famously, apricots. Due to conflict throughout the centuries and particularly during the devastating Armenian genocide in 1915, the Armenian Diaspora has grown to more than 7 million Armenians in 100 different countries. This has spread the rich culture and helped Armenians to maintain and adapt their traditions. To learn more about these communities, explore this website. http://diaspora.gov.am/en/diasporas
According to a 2021 census, Armenia host a population of 2.8 million people including 98% of ethnic Armenians and less than 2% of Yezidi (Kurdish) peoples.
Armenia was part of the Soviet Union bloc from 1921 until 1991. Since that time, it has worked to rebuild an independent and functional government. The U.S. supports Armenia in these efforts and has donated millions to support educational, environmental, security, and transparency initiatives. Armenia has also integrated into international organizations and trade agreements with the United Nations and European Union.
While many of the United Nations, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and European Union treaties and covenants pertaining to human rights have been accepted and ratified by the Armenian government, recognition of commitments regarding sexual orientation and gender identity have been less socially and culturally accepted. In 2018, a group of nine LGBTQIA+ activists were attacked by a hostile group, leaving 6 people injured. While structural barriers have long been a concern for the community, this overt discrimination brought to light the need for the government and society as a whole to address and mitigate prejudice. In recent years, pro LGBTQIA+ nonprofit organizations have been established to address the support and resources that Armenian LGBTQIA+ populations greatly need.
If you would like to get involved in supporting this Utah Global Diplomacy program, consider attending this event.