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?”

February 25, 2015

Armenian MPs interviewed on LGBT rights

Republican MP Karine Achemyan is NOT aware that several PACE MPs have issued a statement on the situation of LGBT rights in Armenia even though she followed PACE sessions, and claimed that delegates did not informed them about anything. To the question of LGBTnews.am in an interview whether she, as an MP, is interested in LGBT rights protection and what are the steps she has been taking so far, said Achemyan “I am not planning to do anything because I have not heard and I have no example that any right of Armenian citizen has been violated. This is the first time I hear from you. Please do not concentrate on this issue that much, as I think, I repeat, I don’t think anyone’s right are violated in this country. To the comment that there are many violations of LGBT rights in Armenia, Mrs. Achemyan commented that she was not sent to Parliament to protect the rights of LGBT people.

MP from Heritage faction Tevan Poghosyan was interviewed by LGBTnews.am to find out whether the MP is planning to take the LGBT issues to the Parliament to discuss the protection of their rights by the Parliament. However, the MP wondered how the LGBT issues mattered to him. Cited: “They have people who protect their rights, who support them, you can contact them and they will reply your questions. You mean they are under pressure? I don’t now see it as an issue, you even have a web site, while in many other countries you would all have been burnt or killed while you exist in Armenia, but that does not interest me. Armenia is fulfilling its international commitments”.

In addition, Tevan Poghosyan is the president of the International Center for Human Development (ICHD) since 1999, and ICHD has received grants for implementation of its projects from various institutions, including OSI, Budapest and European Union. It is said that equality and non-discrimination are among ICHD’s core values.

Another MP, Sukias Avetisyan from the leading Republic party noted in an interview that he doesn’t have to see a homosexual person beside him, that he does not accept them, and it is his right to do so. To the question whether he is not concerned to lose voters (LGBT people and/or the ones engaged in the rights protection of LGBT people) for having such a stand, MP replied that he doesn’t want LGBT people and their supporters to help his party.

In contrast to the aforementioned opinions, MP Khachatur Kokobelyan, the leader of “Free Democrats” party finds that there should be an atmosphere of tolerance towards homosexual people, and that there is no need to interfere in anyone’s personal life. However, Kokobelyan also said that we should not talk about the rights of LBGT persons and separate them, since not only their rights that are being violated.

February 24, 2015

PACE: Armenian authorities fail to condemn incitement to hatred against LGBT people

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. The authorities have failed to condemn this incitement to hatred and discrimination. On the contrary, on 25 October Mr. Babukhanyan was awarded a medal of honor by the President of Armenia. A law suit against “Iravunk” for defamation was dismissed six days later.

They called upon:
  • Armenia’s delegates to this Assembly, particularly those from the Republican Party, to impress upon colleagues the need to refrain from incitement to hatred and discrimination; 
  • The Armenian authorities to condemn such incitement unreservedly and to put in place measures to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. 
On February 4, Hayk Babukhanyan made a statement on PACE resolution urging the Armenian authorities to put pressure on free press and a politician, that PACE’s call jeopardizes the key democracy principles, the freedom of speech and press, and added he expects them to apologize and leave Iravunk newspaper alone.

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, but so far no response has been received.

February 10, 2015

Research: The impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia

The impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia
“Public information and Need of Knowledge” and “Socioscope” Societal Research and Consultancy Center NGOs prepared a report about the LGBT emigration impact on economic indicators of Armenia. The purpose of the project was to study the impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia during 2011-2013 as a result of discrimination against the LGBT community and to reflect those changes in a long-term perspective.

The calculations made by this study demonstrate that, for a citizen of Armenia of average demographics who emigrated during the years 2011-2013, a minimum of the equivalent of $3,545 was spent on education. According to approximate estimates, 5,891 citizens of Armenia emigrated due to discrimination during the years 2011-2013, which implies that society has lost around $21 million in one go only in terms of educational investment toward LGBT emigrants.As for income not received, the calculations reveal that, in the year following emigration during 2011-2013, Armenia did not receive $88,365,000 across three years and for all LGBT emigrants. This is the loss following only one year after emigration, but that loss is prevalent in reality in all the years until the emigrant reaches retirement age.

Budget revenues for all three years taken together – 2011-2013 – could have been more by $20 million had the LGBT individuals who left due to discrimination remained. As a result of the emigration of 5,891 LGBT individuals, the state budget will lose around $2 billion in revenue, at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014, over the course of more than the following 36 years (until retirement).And as a result of LGBT emigration in the following twelve years, from 2014 to 2025, Gross domestic product (GDP) will have a loss of $3 billion at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014, adjusted for Purchasing power parity (PPP), while the budget will lose $370 million at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014.

The full report consists of sociological study and economic assessment. Read the full report with all its findings here.