GENDERDOC-M seeking a researcher. Terms of Reference

GENDERDOC-M Information centre and ARTICLE 19 are seeking a consultant to undertake research into freedom of expression, association and assembly (FoEAA) of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people in Moldova. In particular, the consultant will conduct monitoring and research into legislative threats, discrimination, hate speech and violence targeting LGBT people by providing an evidence base of violations against LGBT people in Moldova, contextualized against international human rights standards, to be used in national and international advocacy and campaigning. The consultant will undertake desk and field research over a period of four months, in accordance with the research methodology that will be developed during the project one-week inception meeting. The consultant will provide monthly progress reports, analysing and compiling data, to be shared with all project partners. At the end of the monitoring period, the consultant will prepare a full research report with conclusions, which will form the base of a regional report, which ARTICLE 19 will be responsible for compiling. This will aggregate country specific chapters, analyse regional trends, and contextualise findings.

The consultant will undertake a research that will examine restrictions on, and threats to, FoEAA, as well as the legal and policy framework in place for ensuring universality of freedom of expression, and specifically protecting the right to FoEAA of LGBT people. While the report will focus on FoEAA, it will also provide additional context on broader human rights violations that affect LGBT people.  The research will also address portrayals of LGBT people in traditional and online media; and hate speech and other discriminatory and negative expression targeting LGBT people and the legal and policy framework in place for preventing and countering this. Research techniques will include legal and media analysisand field interviews with LGBT activists and individuals, human rights defenders and journalists.The research will be contextualised against international standards on FoEAA and hate speech, as set out in treaties to which Moldova is party and articulated in international documents and declarations.The research will draw on ARTICLE 19 legal principles and policies, including the Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality and policy papers on Responding to Hate Speech against LGBT people and Prohibiting Incitement to Discrimination, Hostility or Violence.It will be used to make recommendations for human rights advocates, the media and policy makers for ensuringMoldova respects its international obligations, and promotes a more plural, tolerant and diverse society, through respect for FoEAA while countering speech that discriminates against LGBT people.

Context: Widespread homophobia is a significant problem across the former Soviet Union republics: discrimination is common place, with LGBT people facing verbal and physical abuse. This clearly impacts on the right to free expression.Moreover, in June 2013, Moldovan lawmakers passed a bill banning the promotion of “relationships other than those linked to marriage and the family.” Four months later, the clause was removed despite objections from the Orthodox Church and officials in Moscow. The removal was likely due to a desire on the part of leadership to gain membership in the European Union. Some municipal laws, however, are still in effect. In April 2016, lawmakers introduced a similar bill, which was approved in committee in May 2016 and is pending in parliament. This in turn has reinforced homophobic attitudes within society.

Research objectives:

Identify legal, policy, practice and other challenges/reasons for the inability of LGBT to exercise their right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association and ways to mitigate them.

Understand how LGBT people and issues concerning LGBT people are portrayed in traditional and on-line media, in order to make recommendations to promote ethical coverage of these topics.

Target audience:

  1. Civil society organisations in Moldova (particularly human rights defenders, youth and LGBT activists)
  2. The media community: journalists, editors, publishers and journalists unions
  3. The international community – particularly those able to apply pressure onMoldova to uphold its international commitments (UN HRC and member states’; international NGOs, the International Olympic Community)

The report will also includerecommendations targeting the judiciary and government; however, these groups are not seen as target audiences given high levels of homophobia.

Research outline:

As part of this research, the consultant should be looking at exploring the followingareas and questions:

  • What prevents the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and association for LGBT?
  • What protections are in place to foster and promote free expression of LGBT people?
  • How are LGBTI people portrayed in the media and social media
  • What evidence is there of hate speech or discriminatory speech targeting LGTB people in Moldova(both on and offline)?
  • How is hate speech against LGBT people addressed?

Proposed structure/content [this is subject to change; after discussion with researchers]:[1] 

  • Introduction and background
  • Chapter one: obstacles to FoEAA of LGBT individuals in Moldova
    • Legislation (proposed and actual) – should include general legislation on non-discrimination ; and any specific hate speech/LGBT legislation
    • Censorship (on and offline)
    • Violence and societal attitudes
  • International standards on FoEAA and addressing hatespeech (included in text boxes throughout the document)
  • Chapter four: Media portrayals of LGBT people – perhaps this should be narrowed down, by having broad characterisation, coupled with a few case studies)
  • Chapter 5: Hate speech or discriminatory speech targeting LGTB people in Moldova (both on and offline)
    • Extent of, and examples of, hate speech and discriminatory speech
    • How is hate speech against LGBT people addressed – Legislation; and enforcement
  • Chapter three: (If relevant!) Opportunities for exercise of FoEAA
    • Existence of platforms for online expression?
    • Protection from violence
    • Legal protections
  • Recommendations


The research will be based on information gathered through interviews withrepresentatives of LGBT community, human rights organizations, as well as journalists and, where possible,editors. The interviews will help understand whether the right to FoEAA is currently exercised by LGBT groups and if not, identify the problems which prevent them from exercising, considering international human rights standards, in particular on freedom of expression, as well as identifying not only the incidents, but as well what has been the reaction from the victims to seek the state assistance in their protection, and what has been the state response to those demands, and check whether those were in accordance with national legislation as well as international standards. The interviews with representatives of human rights groups will help identify the present level of homophobiaamong HRDs, as well as any positive stories (if they exist) of HRDs solidarity with LGBT groups, in order to show the way and start building bridges.

The research will also be based on information gathered through monitoring of traditional media outlets and Facebook over the past six months. Information will be analysed, includingnegative statements against LGBT people and calls for violation of their rights and hate speech.

  • Popular programmes on TV channels
  • Monitoring of social media posts and publications for the past six months with special attention to publications by so-called “public opinion leaders” – popular bloggers who frequently make posts on this subject.

Action Plan & Logistics

ARTICLE 19 will work with partners to agree an action plan during a kick off meeting to be held in Tbilisi on 15-20 November.

The duration of monitoring of research will be four months.

ARTICLE 19 will provide funds for travel and field research costs.

Candidates are expected to speak and/or understand Romanian and/or Russian and must send their CV along with some writing samples to artiom.zavadovschi[at] by Sunday, 6 November 00:00 CET.

 [1]This proposed structure of the report is a draft one and is subject to consultation with the researcher

 [2]This will be developed in details during the inception meeting, based on the inputs provided by all project partners, such as existing methodological practice, local contexts, international standards etc.


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