December 29, 2009

GYLA’s Statement on Illegal Actions against Inclusive Foundation

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) condemns illegal actions of the Ministry of Interior Affairs’ (MIA) officers against Inclusive Foundations and calls for immediate response to campaigns waged against NGOs recently. According to the December 23 press release of Inclusive Foundation, on December 15, 2009, at 7:00 pm the organization was raided by the police, who did not wear police uniforms and did not provide a search warrant at the request of the organization members. The also refused to reveal their identity. The police officers searched thirteen individuals present at the office, while making degrading, humiliating, abusive and threatening remarks toward the organization members. Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization was arrested and charged with drug possession.

GYLA is representing the defendant.

GYLA is the first to evaluate the noted incident. We emphasize following violations of law:

• Those present at the office were searched without a warrant. Their cell phones were seized, although it is unclear whether substantial evidence existed that they were hiding an item to be found;

• Police officers searched individuals that arrived at the office later without a search warrant, although it was impossible for them to hide the item to be found, as they were not present when police officers started searching;

• Personal search reports were not drawn up and the office search report was not handed;

• Regulations of law were violated during the search and seizure at the foundation; more specifically: packages seized were not bagged and sealed on spot. As the defendant declares, all three packages were placed in a black plastic bag, rolled over and kept that way (one of the police officers put it in his pocket). The defendant signed the seal later at the police station. It shall also be noted that all items and documents found during the search shall be first presented to officers engaged in the investigative activity, their detailed description shall be recorded in the report and bagged and sealed when possible. Apart from the seal, the bagged item shall be displaying date and signatures of those officers who participated in the investigative activity. An item or a document obtained as a result of an unlawful search, through violating noted regulation loses or does not acquire the meaning of evidence and is inadmissible in trials to substantiate the accusation or the verdict of guilty.

• Under the law, officers performing the search shall “avoid damaging lock, door or any other item and disturbing an order at an apartment or any other premises to be searched as much as possible”. During the search of the Inclusive Foundation office unnecessary damage of items occurred on part of searching officers. LGBT posters were torn down. Noted actions could have never been relevant to purpose of the search to find and seize the evidence of an offence or and item obtained illegally. Under Para 2 of Article 4 of the Law on Police of Georgia, discrimination is forbidden, while Article 3.3. of the Police Code of Ethics of Ethics specifies that “policeman shall fulfill imposed duties justly, impartially and shall ensure equality of every citizen before law, regardless of race, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national, ethnic and social belonging, origin, education, property and title, place of residence or any other personal condition”. Under the “10 Basic Human Rights Principles” of the organization Amnesty International, law enforcement officers shall provide particular care and attention to such vulnerable groups as minorities while fulfilling their duties. Apart from the above mentioned procedural violations, we consider that abasement of dignity of sexual minorities by MIA officers during fulfillment of their duties, as well as the use of uncensored vocabulary, threats made against foundation members, use of homophobic expressions intended to intimidate them, is directed against ethical norms and is discrediting MIA at the same time. Under the Disciplinary Regulations of MIA and the Police Code of Ethics, noted circumstances provide basis for MIA officers’ legal liability. GYLA calls on MIA’s General Inspection and other relevant bodies to examine violations listed in the statement immediately and exercise legal liability measures against individuals concerned.

December 28, 2009

ILGA-Europe: Paata Sabelashvili is free, Georgian police still keeps under surveillance the Inclusive Foundation office and its staff


26 December 2009

For immediate release

Paata Sabelashvili is free, Georgian police still keeps under surveillance the Inclusive Foundation office and its staff

Paata Sabelashvili, board member of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board and a leader of the Inclusive Foundation in Georgia, has been released and is now recovering after nearly two weeks detention.

Nevertheless ILGA-Europe is concerned with the continuous surveillance of the Inclusive Foundation office by Georgian police, including tapping the telephone conversations of the Inclusive Foundations staff.

Linda Freimane, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board said:
“We are relieved and happy Paata is free and well. We want to thank all organisations and individuals across the world who supported Paata and campaigned for his release.”

Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chairs of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Boards, said:
“There are a few questions still to be answered by the Georgian authorities. We are concerned that the raid on the office of the Inclusive Foundation which took place on 15 December 2009 was disproportionate and humiliating. We are very concerned with the way the police forces treated the staff of the Inclusive Foundation and with the damage they cause to the office. The other worry is that Georgian police still monitors the office and that other leaders of the Inclusive Foundation, Tinatin Japaridze and Eka Agdgomelashvili, continue to be under police surveillance. We call on the Georgian authorities to immediately end intimidation and any surveillance of the Inclusive Foundation office and its staff.”

December 24, 2009

Appeal: Georgian civil society organization "Inclusive" attacked

To the President of Georgia
To the Public Defender of Georgia
To the Diplomatic Services accredited in Georgia
To the representatives of International Organizations

On December 15 2009 at 7 pm the office of Inclusive Foundation, a well known Georgian LGBT organization, was raided by five armed men without uniform. The leaders of the organization together with about 15 community members of the ‘Women’s Club” were present in the office. They were ordered not to leave the room and were told that only their chief was of interest to them. The head of the organization, Paata Sabelashvili was taken to a separate room. Then the men made a telephone call and at about 8 pm an additional group of armed men came in. According to witnesses, they did not wear police uniforms (several of them put on jackets with the police inscription only in the office), they did not provide a search warrant, did not inform about their identity or agency they represented and did not explain the purpose of their intrusion.

Witnesses point out that several men reminded them that two witnesses had to be present during the search taking place in another room. Cell phones were confiscated, everyone was moved to a separate room where several men guarded them. Women were locked up in the room for several hours, they were not allowed to contact their families, they were humiliated by being called “perverts”, “sick persons”, Satanists. They were laughed at and several men told them that their photos would be taken and disseminated to reveal their sexual orientation. One of the unidentified men tore down a poster in the office. One of the leaders of the organization, Eka Agdgomelashvili, together with Tinatin Japaridze were threatened that they would be killed if they did not stop demanding search warrants and other official documents. Some of the armed men responded that “we will only show papers to those to whom we need to show them.”

Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization, was arrested as a result of the raid. Soon after arrest he confessed to the possession of 8 grams of marijuana. However, because he made the confession before seeing his lawyer, without the presence of anyone except law enforcement officials, the validity and voluntary character of the confession is highly suspicious.

One of the armed men, distinct with homophobic statements and his aggressive behavior towards staff members, introduced himself as an Operative Officer of the Constitutional Security Department of the Ministry of Interior Giorgi Gegechkori. However, on the pretrial measure hearing of Paata Sabelashvili he appeared as Investigator David Khidesheli. Another man, who later turned out to be the head of the police division, threatened Eka Agdgomelashvili with killing if she immediately would not stop pointing out that they were violating the law. He shouted : “I will kill you!” “I will tear you into pieces!” After one of the staff members said that he was exceeding his powers, he shouted: “Sue me, I don’t give a damn”, “I am myself the Law and the Judge!”

Armed men searched through all bags of staff members in the office. Some of the bags were searched in another room when the owners were not present. Only after that they were returned to their owners. Two women officers forcibly took girls (often in pairs) to the bathroom, stripped them naked and searched them. The girls were humiliated and called “sick” in the process. There was no search protocol composed as a result of the search. Having finished the search, one of the women officers exclaimed that having seen these women, she began to hate women’s body.

Staff members of the organization are under continuous surveillance up till now. Their homes, movement in the city and office are under constant surveillance by cars full of men without uniform. One such car is permanently stationed outside the entrance to the house of one of the staff members.

The raid on the Inclusive Foundation represents a logical continuation of the policy of repression of non-governmental organizations conducted by the Georgian government. It aims at marginalizing, intimidating and discrediting human rights defenders in Georgia. One should have in mind the recent attacks on Georgian civic organizations: public broadcaster of Georgia recently aired a coverage about the alleged attempts of extortion by the members of NGO ‘Human Rights Priority’; Rustavi 2 publicized a defamatory news report about applications submitted by the Georgian Young Lawyers Association to the European Court of Human Rights; Officers of the Ministry of Interior threatened and attempted an extortion from the journalist of newspaper “Batumelebi”. Officers publicly implicated in the incident have not yet been punished despite the assurances by the Ministry of Interior.

We are concerned that particular character of the organization will be manipulated for the purposes of artificially nurturing the aggression of radical fundamentalist groups. It is noteworthy, that the Georgian government has been abstaining from defending the rights of its citizens in such situations. It portrays itself abroad as a victim of the internal clashes of liberal and fundamentalist groups, while internally it appeases to traditionally minded electorate. Hence, we are alarmed about the trend of purposeful discrediting and intimidation of the Georgian civil society leaders.


1) We protest the violation of basic rights, dignity, and identity of victims and demand that those persons, who performed the acts of verbal, psychological and physical violence against the members of the Inclusive Foundation be punished.

2) We demand the Georgian government to react to every similar incident as it is established by the law, conduct inquiries and punish those who perpetrate such acts

3) We appeal to international organizations and diplomatic services accredited in Tbilisi to thoroughly monitor the detention of Paata Sabelashvili and pressure the Georgian government for protection of his Constitutional rights. We ask for continuous monitoring of such incidents and for accountability of the Georgian government to defend the basic rights of its citizens.

4) Georgian media should follow the principle of the presumption of innocence of the individual and should refrain from publicizing unverified information.

5) Surveillance and intimidation of the members of the Inclusive Foundation should be immediately discontinued.

6) We appeal to the Public Defender of Georgia to investigate the instance of raid on the Inclusive Foundation and the arrest of its leader Paata Sabelashvili.

Police attacks Inclusive Foundation in Tbilisi. Head of organisation Paata Sabelashvili arrested

On December 15 2009 the office of the Inclusive Foundation, a well known Georgian LGBT organisation, was raided by the police. They did not wear police uniforms, did not provide a search warrant, did not inform about their identity or agency they represented and did not explain the purpose of their intrusion. Members of the LGBT community were present in the office during the raid for a regular meeting of the "Women’s Club". The men confiscated cell phones of all those present in the office, did not allow them to contact their families, and made degrading and humiliating remarks, such as ‘perverts’, ‘sick persons’, Satanists. They threatened to take photos of the women and disseminate them to reveal their sexual orientation. They also threatened ‘to kill’ and ‘tear to pieces’ one of the leaders of the organisation, Eka Agdgomelashvili, if she did not stop demanding the search warrant and identification documents of the police.

Paata Sabelashvili, the leader of the organization, was arrested as a result of the raid. Soon after arrest he confessed to the possession of 8 grams of marijuana. However, because he made the confession before seeing his lawyer, without the presence of anyone except law enforcement officials, the validity and voluntary character of the confession is highly suspicious.

Staff members of the organization are under continuous surveillance up till now. Their homes, movement in the city and office are under constant surveillance by cars full of men without uniform. One such car is permanently stationed outside the entrance to the house of one of the staff members.

The raid on the Inclusive Foundation represents a logical continuation of the policy of repression of non-governmental organizations conducted by the Georgian government. It aims at marginalizing, intimidating and discrediting human rights defenders in Georgia.

Inclusive - Foundation

December 11, 2009

World AIDS Day 2009 "Stop the Counter"

Public Information and Need of Knowledge, Armenian Student Forum, Real World - Real People, Positive People Armenian Network non-governmental organizations conducted “Stop the Counter” action dedicated to the World AIDS Day aiming to raise society's awareness and consciousness about the spread of HIV and stigma & discrimination against people living with HIV.

In the frames of the project trainers of PINK Armenia organized "HIV awareness" training sessions for 70 volunteers of ASF from November 26 to 29.

On November 30, we organized a press conference in "Urbat" press club dedicated to the World AIDS Day (financial support by Norwegian Government). About 25 journalists participated in the discussion addressing their questions to the coordination team of the event. During the conference mainly were touched the problems of students, drug users, men having sex with men, sex workers and people living with HIV.

That evening, which was the last preparational day, stayed in our memories as a day of friendship, tolerence and unity. More than 20 people joined to make hundreds of handmade boxes, tasty cookies with the shape of ribbon, drawing on the posters and T-shirts. It was the day when people did not care if others are married or single, students or employees, gay or heterosexual, living with or without HIV.

On December 1, we all gathered near the statue of Komitas (near Conservatory) at 4pm, having white T-Shirts with numbers on it and a red ribbon on the back side. Those numbers were symbolizing the number of people being infected with HIV in Armenia.
After we moved, taking direction to Republic Square through the Northern avenue. Like never before, we had few live performances and flash mobs on the way, tryingto concentrate society's attention on the issues of HIV and human rights. We had several banners in our hands written on it: "HIV cannot be transmitted by respect, friendship, care, touch". The big Red Ribbon was held by two people in the front of the march.
At Republic Square we continued the other part of our action "Human Ribbon", to make the shape of ribbon with the help of participants as a sign of solidarity of people living with HIV.
At 6pm, as it was planned, we started the "Stop the Counter" action at Aznavour Square, near the cinema Moscow. There was a big screen, showing increasing number of people being infected with HIV, the goal of this part was to stop the counter with the help of society.There were colorful stones on the table and people were asked to make their contribution, to put one stone in the box. As heavier the box was becoming as slower the counter was working.Volunteers had time to explain people the importance of their input on prevention of HIV and respecting the rights of others. For each person we had a small box with a "Ribbon" cookie, two condoms and an info material.This was another step to break stereotypes among population about condoms, that condom can be in the same box with food and there is nothing wrong in it.
People were really active and the counter was stopped even earlier than we planned, It stoped on 2471, almost the number of people living with HIV in Armenia that statistic shows.

After we entered the cinema Moscow where National Center for AIDS Prevention prepared a movie to show. Before movie starts we had another live show on the stage, where each participant said one phrase created by the World AIDS Campaign (with few changes) in the frames of this year's slogan "Universal Access and Human Rights".
- I have rights to be healthy
- I am safe
- I am getting treatment
- I am well
- I am living my rights
- My baby has rights to live
- I am accepted
(watch the video below)

We call our society to pay more attention on HIV related issues and remember that HIV can be transmitted also by hate, intolerence, abuse and dscrimination.
Make your contribution! Stop the counter of HIV infecting.

PINK wants to thank the coordinator of the action Elmira Bakhshinyan (RWRP), Women's Resource Center and National Citizens' Initiative for their participation, municipality of Yerevan city for permission, all the volunteers and coordination team for their hard work and UNAIDS for the financial support.

more pictures are available at PINK website

November 27, 2009

Stop the counter

Public Information and Need of Knowledge, Armenian Student Forum, Real World - Real People, Positive People Armenian Network non-governmental organizations are organizing “Stop the Counter” action dedicated to World AIDS Day aiming to raise society's awareness and consciousness about the spread of HIV and stigma & discrimination against people living with HIV.
Make your contribution!
Stop the counter of HIV infecting.

>>November 26-28
15.00 trainings: "HIV awareness" > PINK IEC

>>November 30
11.00am press conference > "Urbat" press club

December 1
16.00pm march > form Komitas statue
17.30pm human ribbon > Republic Square
18.00pm stop the counter > Aznavour Square

November 7, 2009

Advancing the rights of people living with and vulnerable to HIV

Human rights violations continue to hinder the response to HIV/AIDS, to place people at risk of HIV and to be addressed in AIDS programs and policy. Subordination of women constrains their ability to demand safer sex and their equal access to health and education services.

Men who have sex with men and sex workers are harassed and abused with impunity in many countries. Prisoners are denied access to HIV/AIDS services and support that are available to others. Indigenous persons and migrants face multiple forms of discrimination that inhibit their seeking of HIV/AIDS services.

People living with HIV/AIDS face a wide range of discriminatory practices in many settings. In short, in spite of widespread rhetorical support for human rights-based approaches to addressing HIV/AIDS, much remains to be done to safeguard the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and those most affected by the disease.

In facing these challenges, organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS, advocates and policy-makers have often needed and relied upon legal and human rights analysis and relevant research — to challenge discriminatory laws, to resist unjust or ill-informed policies, to use legal procedures to secure people’s rights and to transform social relations and conditions in ways that protect people against HIV and ensure access to dignity and care for those living with HIV.

Yet such information and tools are often inaccessible in a given language or format or seldom adapted to a particular set of new circumstances. In some cases, many resources exist on a given subject, but those who need these documents do not have the time or resources to find what they need or to work out which existing materials are most pertinent for their needs.

AIDSLEX (the AIDS and Law Exchange) gives concrete meaning to a “rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS”. This web portal is a tool for activists, community organizations, researchers, policy-makers, journalists, health workers and anyone who seeks quick and easy access to a wide range of resources about HIV, human rights and the law. It helps people around the world communicate and share information, materials and strategies, with the ultimate goal of contributing to a global effort to protect and promote the human rights of people living with or vulnerable to HIV and AIDS.

October 24, 2009

PINK breaks stereotypes

Armenian society can be described as a patriarchal one and men are viewed here as powerful and leading figure. Masculinity has exact shapes and perception and it is highly important to fit into this frames.

This is the core reason that “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO decided to start “Masculinity: breaking stereotypes” project. We started this project on 29 of June, 2009. Within the framework of this project we organize trainings, group discussions and film watching activities about gender issues, perceptions, gender roles and stereotypes concerning masculinity in our society.

In the project we planned to organize an exhibition which would have the same logo as the project, that is “Masculinity: breaking stereotypes” and it took place on 17 of October at Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography.

Both professional artists and non professionals took part in the exhibition where they presented their perceptions about how the “real man” should be and which are the main stereotypes that exist in our reality. Participants were from Armenia, Georgia, Belarus, Slovakia and USA.

During the exhibition the artists presented photos, graphic and ceramic art works, paintings and also short movies. The art works related to different spheres where stereotypes of masculinity are emphasized and appear to be an obstacle in daily life. In their works participants captured ideas about
how man can be masculine and implement different roles that are not supposed to be done by an Armenian man, how understanding of who can touch whom, how and why disturb doctors in their work, harmony between men and women and how it is important to value sameness and not differences and etc.

The exhibition started with the presentation of the current project
of the organization and after that 2 short movies were shown. Performance of art works was presented for the guests with the explanation of artists. Guests were asked to vote for the best art works and the 3 winners were granted according to the votes received from them and professional jury.Those who weren’t present at the exhibition will have a chance to see the electronic version of it in “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO’s official website or can visit organization’s “Information, Education, Communication” office where the works will be presented during October 23 – 31, 2009.

October 9, 2009

Exhibition "Masculinty: Breaking Stereotypes"

"Public Information and Need of Knowledge" NGO invites you to take part in "Masculinity: Breaking Stereotypes" exhibition during which will be presented different works of art.

The entrance is free.

The event will take place in State Theatre, 26 Amiryan, (Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography), on 17 of October, 1pm-5pm

fficial oppening on 2pm.

September 6, 2009

Circumcision to fight HIV

Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision (surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis) for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.

Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.

Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting HIV from infected female partners.

For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent.

Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with HIV over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.

Members of Intact America oppose circumcision on broad philosophical and medical grounds, Ms. Chapin argued that the studies in Africa found only that circumcision reduces HIV infection risk, not that it prevents infection. “Men still need to use condoms,” Ms. Chapin said.

In fact, while the clinical trials in Africa found that circumcision reduced the risk of a man’s acquiring HIV, it was not clear whether it would reduce the risk to women from an infected man, several experts said.

“There’s mixed data on that,” Dr. Kilmarx said. But, he said, “If we have a partially successful intervention for men, it will ultimately lower the prevalence of HIV in the population, and ultimately lower the risk to women.”

Circumcision is believed to protect men from infection with H.I.V. because the mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to HIV and can be an entry portal for the virus. Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted infections like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with HIV from infected partners if they were circumcised.

source: The New York Times

picture by S H HO urology and laparoscopy center

August 28, 2009


Iravunk newspaper says
Ministry of Sport-supporter of propaganda of homosexuality?

There is an NGO in Armenia named PINK Armenia, which declares its main objective to be fighting SPID (AIDS in Russian) by providing relevant information. However, as it appears, this organisation can morally carry the role of SPID (AIDS in Russian) as on the frontline of its web page the organisation (August 20) we found out a material that glorifies homosexuality and degrades the ones fighting against it, amongst mass media.
And right next to the frontline article, on the left side it lists its supporters: Ministry of Sport and youth of Armenia and the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow. Well, it is not a surprise that one of the Armenian Ministries actually acts as a supporter of propaganda of homosexuality. As they say, ‘no comments’. And we are looking forward to the official response of the Minister on how such shame could happen. Besides, we address a question to the Ministry, on what is the support they are providing and if supporting such shameful organisations is the function of mysteries.

PINK replies

Dear Mr. Galajyan

This letter is following the article"Mynistry of Sport - supporter of a propadanda of homosexuality?" published in 'Iravunk' daily issued on 25 August, 2009. We highly appriciate your interest in our organisation, however, let us make some remarks on the content of your article. Firstly, we see dire need to clarify the mission of our organisation for you, which is "Prevention of STIs (sexually transmitted infections)' and by no means propaganda of homosexuality. You could kindly obtain further information on the objectives of PINK Armenia here.

Secondly, we would like to drow your attention to the fact SPID (AIDS in Russian) is not transmitted and we do not educate on how AIDS is transmitted.

Seeing your vast interest in our organisation, its activities and mission you are kindly invited to attend our organisation as well as an educational meetings with our other visitors. Please, feel free to follow our organisational calendar and contact us for an appointment.

We look forward to hosting you in our information centre,
Kind regards
Mamikon Hovsepyan

August 19, 2009

Each illiterate gives him/her right to express an opinion

You know now I’m sitting trying to express my opinion about Armenian journalists’ illiteracy and permissiveness on a sheet of paper but when I remember what kind of people they are I just can’t find words to fully describe, but anyway I’ll try...
It’s a pity but again l have read a homophobic article in an Armenian newspaper lately. Getting acquainted with the authors writing style I remembered fragments from my work experience with mentally ill people as the author were periodically trying to touch different topics not keeping logical connection and of course trying to devote the most part of his article to the slander of homosexuals.
It makes an impression that our journalists don’t have any other topic to write an article, don’t have any other way to get the name of cool people and also earn a few coins more. Each illiterate gives him/her right to express an opinion about the issues concerning which he/she doesn’t have any idea. I think that it is meaningless to explain that kind of narrow minded people what human dignity, respect, philanthropy and these kind of high ideas mean.
I don’t know why but almost all journalists mainly discuss the topic of homosexuality, I don’t know why but they never remember that there were and are many outstanding people among them, they just insist that it is amoral. It is evident misinformation of the society.
I don’t think that people deserve respect when they have an opportunity to provide information to wide masses and do it by spreading their personal opinion besides that when they dare to perform it in statistical indicators without taking into consideration the real opinion of the society.
I won’t forget to mention that in the last article that I have read was a call to abuse and even kill homosexuals. I think that many will agree that appropriate punishment must be applied toward such people. Fortunately there are already brave and courage activists who are standing behind those who need help and support and with the help of their activities are trying to ensure worthy life for everybody.
I consider it my duty to inform all the people who have fallen behind of the world’s events, all the more journalists and people who confidently announce that homosexuality is a disease and say that in 1973 the American Psychiatric Association (APA) removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which was adopted by World Health Organization too.
Concluding I would like to say stop violating others right to have private life and lets use our energy and time to do constructive steps.


August 5, 2009

Masculinity and stereotypes

If you are creative and have art works about masculinity, participate in our exhibition. You may make your submissions until 18 September 2009. For details, please, see the poster or visit our official website

August 3, 2009

VivaCell-MTS and Armenian Red Cross Society Together for Humanity

On July 31, 2009 VivaCell-MTS and Armenian Red Cross Society (ARCS) joined hands to address humanitarian challenges facing the state and society. The two Organizations signed a Memorandum of Understanding for this purpose during a press conference at the Headquarters of the Armenian Red Cross Society.

Because we care! A notion that gathered the efforts of two of the biggest organizations in Armenia: The Red Cross ARCS and VivaCell-MTS. Both having the best interest of the support of vulnerable groups at heart, joined hands for the society’s welfare.

The long term cooperation between the ARCS and VivaCell-MTS will start with a very vital cause, the fight against the HIV virus, the millennium’s merciless evil. Realizing the importance of awareness in prevention of the virus, the two organizations come together to raise population’s awareness on prevention of HIV/AIDS. The activities will be multi-staged and will involve a wide range of educational events: spread of information materials, public events, etc. Within the framework of the activities, all kind of print materials with brief information on HIV/AIDS and alarming messages and guidance tips and advises will be available to all the Armenian society to benefit from.
“Today VivaCell-MTS and Armenian Red Cross Society have come together to join their efforts to address the needs of the most vulnerable population and to provide them with reachable and effective support. Join us, don’t stay indifferent to the pain of others”, mentioned in the speech the leader of the Armenian Red Cross Society.
“We owe our society the right to know! With knowledge and awareness we can better prevent and fight any disease. Awareness and prevention are each and every one’s responsibility and tolerance is required when dealing with HIV cases. Because we care we are here today, what about you?” asked VivaCell-MTS General Manager Ralph Yirikian.

The press conference started with a very significant yet meaningful action taken by the leaders of both organizations, together with their staff of volunteers, who did a blood testing with the purpose of HIV investigation

source: VivaCell-MTS

July 31, 2009

Round-table on intolerance and homophobia in Armenia

For the first time, round-table on intolerance, xenophobia and homophobia in Armenia was organised by The National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI) affiliated with the parliamentary opposition Heritage party. I welcome the initiative. Hopefully, this discussion will continue, eventually evolving a broader spectrum of the society, media and political representatives. As coordinator of the NCI Hovsep Khurshudyan rightly pointed out, Armenia, facing so many challenges, simply cannot afford xenophobia, homophobia and intolerance towards others' political or religious views.

Below is press release by the organisation in English and Armenian.

thanks to Unzipped: Gay Armenia for the information

July 30, 2009

NCI Examines Xenophobia in Armenia

Yerevan—Today, the National Citizens’ Initiative (NCI) convened a roundtable discussion on the topic of “Xenophobia in Armenia.” The meeting brought together NGO officials, human rights advocates, analysts, members of international organizations, and several others.

Welcoming the audience with opening remarks, NCI coordinator Hovsep Khurshudian pointed to those dangers that xenophobia includes, and specifically to homophobia as well as intolerance toward others’ political views and freedom of religion. “Countries like Armenia, which faces numerous foreign challenges, cannot allow the entrenchment of phenomena like xenophobia, which imperils social unity,” Khurshudian said. “Sadly, however, this awareness is virtually absent particularly among the ruling political circles, and, with their actions and especially through the electronic media, the authorities contribute to this troubling phenomenon’s entrenchment among social awareness.”

The day’s first speaker, director Artur Sakunts of the Vanadzor office of the Helsinki Civil Assembly, spoke about intolerance toward other political views. Presenting the roots of political intolerance in Armenia, he drew attention to the recent centuries, when Armenia was under the domination of foreign empires and states, and, in result, the open development of the political culture was hindered. According to Sakunts, however, “in the case when people are fired from their jobs for their political convictions, and when the entrepreneurs’ private properties are confiscated because of their political positions, the aforesaid history cannot justify the work method of the Armenian authorities.” Sakunts also underscored the imperative of institutional reforms.

In his intervention, Mamikon Hovsepian of the “Public Information and Need For Knowledge” NGO discussed the alarming extent of homophobia in Armenia. According to Hovsepian, this phenomenon is widespread in the army and the media, and high-level officials and leading representatives of the ruling political party are encouraging homophobia. And all this, as maintained by Hovsepian, is taking place against the backdrop of the incumbent Armenian authorities’ periodical assumption, from various international bodies, of commitments to carry out measures against homophobia. In Hovsepian’s view, the assumption of these commitments is “a mere formality and solely steps toward deceiving the European structures, and this does not affect, whatsoever, the authorities’ true steps taken in that direction.” Hovsepian also noted that, parallel to the growing reduction in the level of education and the deepening lack of knowledge, homophobia was becoming more widespread in the country.

The next speaker, chairman Stepan Danielian of the Cooperation for Democracy Center, presented the amendments which the ruling political party had proposed for the law on the freedom of conscience and religious organizations, and also pointed to the dangers these amendments can bring forth. He remarked that the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the OSCE/ODIHR, and the Council of Europe’s General Department on Human Rights jointly had expressed a negative view with respect to these amendments. “This bill, which passed through the Armenian National Assembly floor, in the first reading, will greatly curtail the freedom of religion, and this conflicts with the Armenian Constitution and the international agreements,” Danielian maintained.

In the shared view of the roundtable participants, xenophobia is truly perilous for the Armenian society and comprehensive counter measures are indispensable, but, to that end, no hope can be placed on the authorities in office. According to the panel discussants, it is impossible to resolve this problem exclusively by way of institutional reforms, because the laws simply are not executed and their mechanisms for execution are either lacking or flawed.

In his closing remarks, NCI coordinator Hovsep Khurshudian argued that, unfortunately, the logic of the political developments is paving the way for one-party rule, with the alternative of Soviet totalitarianism, and, parallel to this, by violating the constitutionally-protected separation of the state and the Church, and freedom of conscience of the citizens, the very same attempt also is being made in the sphere of religion. “In order to disallow such developments, the body politic must unite and work more effectively and in a more coordinated fashion,” Khurshudian concluded.

30 հուլիսի 2009թ.

ՔԱՆ-ում քննարկվեց Հայաստանում այլատյացության (քսենոֆոբիայի) խորացման վտանգը

Երեւան: Այսօր Քաղաքացիական ազգային նախաձեռնությունը (ՔԱՆ) անցկացրեց §Այլատյացությունը Հայաստանում թեմայով քննարկում, որին մասնակցեցին հասարակական կազմակերպությունների ներկայացուցիչներ, փորձագետներ, իրավապաշտպաններ, միջազգային կազմակերպությունների ներկայացուցիչներ, շահագրգիռ այլ շրջանակներ:

Բացելով քննարկումը ՔԱՆ համակարգող Հովսեփ Խուրշուդյանը մատնանշեց այն վտանգները, որոնք պարունակում են իրենց մեջ այլատյացության տարատեսակ դրսեւորումները, եւ, մասնավորապես, անհանդուրժողականությունը այլոց քաղաքական հայացքների հանդեպ, հոմոֆոբիան եւ անհանդուրժողականությունը այլոց հավատքի իրավոնքի հանդեպ: Հատկապես Հայաստանի պես երկիրը, որը ունի վտանգներով լեցուն արտաքին մարտահրավերներ, չի կարող իրեն թույլ տալ ներհասարակական համախմբմանը խոչընդոտող այնպիսի երեւույթների խորացում, ինչպիսին է այլատյացությունը: Ցավոք, դրա գիտակցումը հատկապես իշխող քաղաքական շրջանակներում գրեթե բացակայում է եւ իշխանությունները իրենց գործողություններով` հատկապես էլեկտրոնային ԶԼՄ-ների ներգրավմամբ, նպաստում են այս մտահոգիչ երեւույթի արմատավորմանը հասարակական գիտակցության մեջ:

Քննարկման առաջին բանախոսը Հելսինկյան քաղաքացիական ասամբլեայի Վանաձորի գրասենյակի ղեկավար Արթուր Սաքունցն էր, որը ներկայացրեց անհանդուրժողականության դրսեւորումները քաղաքական այլակարծության հանդեպ: Դիտարկելով քաղաքական անհանդուրժողականության արմատները Հայաստանում` նա մատնանշեց վերջին դարերի պատմությունը, երբ Հայաստանը գտնվել է օտար տերությունների լծի տակ, ինչի արդյունքում խոչընդոտվել է քաղաքական մշակույթի ազատ զարգացումը: Սակայն ըստ բանախոսի դա չի կարող լինել Հայաստանի իշխանություննրի գործելաճի արդարացում, երբ քաղաքական հայացքների համար մարդիկ ազատազրկվում են` համալրելով քաղբանտարկյալների շարքերը, երբ քաղաքական դիրքորոշման համար շատերն ազատվում են իրենց աշխատանքից, իսկ գործարարներից խլում են իրենց սեփականությունը: Բանախոսը մեծապես կարեւորեց խնդրի կարգավորման ուղղությամբ հանրակարգային (ինստիտուցիոնալ) բարեփոխումները:

Այնուհետեւ "Հանրային տեղեկատվություն և գիտելիքի կարիք" հասարակական կազմակերպության ներկայացուցիչ Մամիկոն Հովսեփյանը ներկայացրեց հոմոֆոբիայի ահագնացող չափերը Հայաստանում: Հոմոֆոբիայի դրսեւորումները բազմաթիվ են բանակում, ԶԼՄ-ներում, դրանք խրախուսվում են բարձրաստիճան պաշտոնյաների եւ իշխող կուսակցության առաջատար ներկայացուցիչների կողմից: Եւ այս ամենը տեղի է ունենում հոմոֆոբիայի դեմ քայլեր իրականացնելու` Հայաստանի գործող իշխանությունների կողմից միջազգային տարբեր ատյաններում պարտավորությունների պարբերաբար ստանձնման ֆոնի վրա: Նման պարտավորությունների ստանձնումը բանախոսն անվանեց ձեւական եւ միմիայն եվրոպական կառույցների աչքերին թոզ փչելու նկատառմամբ արվող քայլեր, որոնք որեւէ ազդեցություն չեն ունենում երկրի ներսում այս ուղղությամբ իշխանությունների իրական քայլերի վրա եւ բերեց մի շարք օրինակներ: Նա նաեւ նշեց, որ հոմոֆոբիայի ծավալները ավելանում են հասարակության մեջ կրթական մակարդակի հետզհետե նվազմանը եւ տգիտության խորացմանը զուգընթաց:

Երրորդ զեկուցող, "Համագործակցություն հանուն ժողովրդավարության" կենտրոնի նախագահ Ստեփան Դանիելյանը ներկայացրեց Խղճի ազատության և կրոնական կազմակերպությունների մասին օրենքում իշխող կուսակցության կողմից առաջարկված փոփոխությունների նախագիծը եւ դրանում առկա վտանգները: Նա նշեց, որ այս նախագծի վերաբերյալ Եվրախորհրդի Վենետիկի հանձնաժողովը, OSCE/ODIHR և Եվրախորհրդի Մարդու իրավունքների Գլխավոր դեպարտամենտի համատեղ կարծիքը բացասական է եղել: Ըստ զեկուցողի` ՀՀ ԱԺ-ում առաջին ընթերցմամբ անցած օրենքի նախագիծը ուղղված է կրոնական ազատությունների խիստ սահմանափակմանը, ինչը հակասում է ՀՀ Սահմանադրությանը եւ միջազգային համաձայնագրերին:

Ծավալված քննարկման ընթացքում ելույթ ունեցողները հիմնականում միակարծիք էին այն հարցում, որ քսենոֆոբիան իրապես վտանգավոր է մեր հասարակության համար, եւ որ դրա դեմ համալիր միջոցառումների կարիք կա, ինչի վերաբերյալ, սակայն հույս կապել գործող իշխանությունների հետ որեւէ հիմք չկա: Իսկ բացառապես ինստիտուցիոնալ բարեփոխումների միջոցով խնդրի լուծումը գնահատվեց անհնարին, քանի որ օրենքները պարզապես չեն գործում, դրանց կիրարկման մեխանիզմները կամ բացակայում են կամ անկատար են:

Հմչեց նաեւ կարծիք, որ երբեմն շփոթում են անհանդուրժողականություն եւ հաշտվողականություն եզրույթները: Այսպես, իշխանությունների կողմից կատարվող ապօրինությունների հետ հասարակությունը երբեւէ չպետք է հաշտվի, այլ պետք է դրանց դեմ մշտապես պայքարի, եւ այս հարցում կարեւորվեց քաղաքացիական հասարակության բոլոր դերակատարների, հատկապես ԶԼՄ-ների եւ ՀԿ-ների դերակատարությունը:

Իր ամփոփիչ խոսքում ՔԱՆ համակարգող Հովսեփ Խուրշուդյանը կարծիք հայտնեց, որ քաղաքական զարգացումների տրամաբանությունը ցավալիորեն տանում է քաղաքական համակարգի միակուսակցականացմանը` սովետական ամբողջատիրության նմանությամբ, դրան զուգահեռ նույնը փորձ է արվում իրականացնել կրոնական ոլորտում` խախտելով պետության եւ եկեղեցու ՀՀ սահմանադրությամբ ամրագրված տարանջատումը եւ քաղաքացիների խղճի ազատությունը: Նման զարգացումներ թույլ չտալու համար քաղաքացիական հասարակությունը պետք է համախմբվի եւ առավել համակարգված ու արդյունավետ գործի: