May 25, 2015

IDAHOT in Armenia

IDAHOT
Several advocacy and public events took place in Yerevan on the occasion of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The awareness about the Day has been successfully increased covering different layers of the society.

On the eve of IDAHOT, activists made the uncompromising statement of Stonewall “Some people are gay, get over it” available on the streets of Yerevan for passers-by.

PINK Armenia initiated personal letters to all of the MPs, some of the relevant ministries, prime minister of the country and the president Serzh Sargsyan. PINK called upon the state officials to monitor direct and indirect cases of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, to ensure the legislative amendments to combat discrimination based on SOGI, thus ensuring equal rights and respect towards LGBT people. The letter addressed to the president urged him not to reward persons and organizations openly demonstrating hate calls with national awards. The letter addressed to the MPs pointed out not to use the chair of the National Assembly as a platform for hate speech. The letters stated that the Government is also expected to adopt and implement the recommendations of UPR on regards to prohibiting and preventing discrimination based on SOGI.

PINK also gifted state officials informational booklets about homophobia and postcards with personal stories of LGBT persons who were subjected to violence and discrimination.

On May 17 PINK activists raised the LGBT flag in the very heart of Yerevan, which caused hysteria among the homophobic society and hate calls and threats towards the activists.

To conclude the day, IDAHOT was celebrated in a closed venue attended by more than 120 LGBT people and allies. Rarely in Armenia does the LGBT community have a safe and secure platform to express themselves openly, yet IDAHOT was celebrated in an easy and free environment.

April 22, 2015

Armenian PACE delegate against LGBT rights

As LGBTnews.am (link in Armenian) reports, Prosperous Armenia MP Naira Zohrabyan, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe delegation representative from Armenia, has a negative attitude towards LGBT people and tries to stay away from their issues. Zohrabyan recognizes that we shall avoid such depravity to preserve our nation’s moral and ethnic description. MP noted that in Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly she had constantly voted against all the initiatives aimed at the protection of LGBT people.
“…[M]y attitude towards them is negative and it cannot be changed, because I know there is a law of nature, a law of God, commandments, and the class that will go against the commandments of God, will be awarded the punishment of God. Yes, there probably is a class among them that is sick by genetics, another class that has mental disorders, but we shall not pay tribute… I’ll do my best to ensure they fail spreading their metastasis, I say it openly and publicly”, she said.
PACE delegation substitute from Armenia, "Armenian Revolutionary Federation" faction MP Armen Rustamyan finds that LGBT rights are more than protected in Armenia. He also finds that there’s a huge difference between “vulnerable groups” and LGBT people. “Homosexual marriages do not fit into Armenian mentality … and if the family does not reproduce, then it is not a family”, he concluded.

April 21, 2015

The ombudsman's annual report also refers to LGBT issues

Ombudsman’s Annual Report of 2014 on the human rights protection in Armenia has recently been released. The annual report also refers to LGBT rights violations of 2014, submitted by PINK Armenia. Although the submitted information has not been thoroughly included and presented in the annual report, it includes some of the main issues LGBT people face. The report states that the index of society’s intolerance towards LGBT people remains high. The survey on constitutional reform of 2014 showed that 88% of respondents believe that the rights of sexual minority must be limited. Meanwhile, the 2015 UN Universal Periodic Review working group instructed Armenia to take effective legislative and practical measures to ensure the protection of sexual minorities from discrimination. Human rights defenders recorded 1233 cases of discrimination, physical violence, and inadequate response to LGBT people complaints from the side of law enforcement bodies. Acts of discrimination against LGBT people is often expressed in media, spheres of healthcare, education, labor.
“Gay people are in a more vulnerable situation in penitentiary institutions, where they often perform the most humiliating jobs (eg, sewage cleaning), live isolated from other prisoners, no one communicates with them, their utensils and belongings are separated” is said in the Ombudsman's annual report.

March 24, 2015

Follow up of PACE announcement: Authorization of State-sponsored homophobia

Petra DeSutter, Belgian delegate at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has initiated an announcement, which has been signed by 22 delegates regarding the case of 16 citizens against Iravunk newspaper. Hayk Babukhanyan, the president of the editorial board of Iravunk, member of Armenia's Republican Party Faction of the National Assembly, in his turn, stated that he expects PACE delegates to apologize and leave Iravunk newspaper alone.

On this occasion PINK Armenia has sent letters to various commissions of National Assembly, as well as to the MPs of the Republican Party to find the steps for the follow up of PACE recommendations.

Serzh Sargsyan awarded the
leader of homophobic newspaper
On March 2 we received responses from The Republican Party Faction (secretary) and Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs. The letter of Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs stated that the matter raised by PINK Armenia was not subjected to discussion.

The response from The Republican Faction said that Hermine Naghdalyan (the head of the Armenian delegation to the PACE, Republican Party) had made a statement on regards to the article by Iravunk, and regarding the announcement made by 22 PACE delegates – MP Hayk Babukhanyan issued an open letter where he explained the situation and demanded an apology from 22 delegates. Together with the letter, the open letter of Babukhanyan and 2 editions of Iravunk newspaper were attached. As a further matter, some articles regarding the case were highlighted, entitled “Naghdalyan left homosexual lobbyists empty-handed”, “Coordinated attack from Strasburg [to Berdzor]”, etc. Is it needless to mention “Iravunk” is published under the state support?

March 20, 2015

The Court of Appeal decision on the case against “Iravunk”

Photo by LGBTnews.am
On February 20, the Civil Court of Appeal reviewed the claim of 16 citizens’ case against “Iravunk” newspaper. The judge ignored the motion to present additional facts to the case (Information Disputes Council found that the expressions and calls for action voiced in the article were displays of extremism and hate speech and written declaration of PACE delegate Petra DeSutter signed by 22 delegates) and on March 5 it rejected 16 citizen`s claim against “Iravunk”, according to which the editor of “Iravunk” newspaper Hovhannes Galajyan’s article titled “They serve the interests of international homosexual lobbying: the blacklist of country’s and nation’s enemies” offended the honor and dignity of the plaintiffs.

According to the Court Decision no offensive remarks were used in the article and it corresponds to the principles of freedom of speech. The verdict obliged the plaintiffs to compensate 50,000 AMD in favor of each respondent party: “Iravunk Media” LTD and Hovhannes Galajyan.

It should be recalled that Judge Nakhshun Tavaratsyan basically revealed in one question that the court has already decided the verdict of the Iravunk case during the trial;
“Does Conchita [Wurst] know that you are defending her this much?”