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?”

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.