February 24, 2016

You can talk to me now, I am gay

On February 24, a press conference took place at Yerevan’s Media Center (media-center.am) on “Violence against Sexual Minorities: The Approaches of Law Enforcement and Healthcare System”, which was live streamed via YouTube. The speakers of the press conference were Mamikon Hovsepyan, Executive Director of PINK Armenia, Sergey Gabrielyan and Artur Makaryan of New Generation Humanitarian NGO, and Sona Harutyunyan, lecturer at the Medical Psychology Department of Yerevan State Medical University. The recent homophobic attack on LGBT activists, as well as other matters regarding discrimination and hatred towards LGBTQ people was discussed during the press conference. A journalist from hraparak.am asked a question on whether it would be admissible to see homosexual people during the day walking in the streets if anti-discrimination legislation is passed in Armenia. Hovsepyan in turn asked the journalist if she sees homosexuals during the day. The journalist said yes, and that it was “not normal” to her. In response to her statement, Hovsepyan asked if it was “normal” for the journalist to be talking to him, to which she said, “Yes.” “I am homosexual,” said Mamikon in response, coming out publicly in front of journalists and cameras.

February 23, 2016

A Psychologist Publicly Stating She 'Cures' Homosexuality; A Lawyer Who Calls To Burn Gays

On the most recent episode of «Կիսաբաց լուսամուտներ» (kisabac lusamutner / Half Opened Windows), the most popular Armenian talk show, a gay man was brought on the air together with his mother to talk about the discrimination he faces in finding a job, based on his sexual orientation and gender identity / expression. President of PINK Armenia, Nvard Margaryan, and an LGBT-friendly doctor, Vardan Hambardzumyan, were asked to take part in a show as experts. During the show, the guest faced inhumane and unprofessional attitudes from other invited experts (a psychologist, sexologist, lawyer and an artist). During the TV show, sexologist Vrezh Shahramanyan talked about “ego-dystonic homosexuality”—a diagnosis no longer recognized in the DSM— while artist Sargis Mikayelyan made homophobic jokes and statements. Psychologist Mariam Mehrabyan, a co-founder of “Zhest” Personal Development Centre, PhD of Psychological Sciences, Associate Professor, said that she can treat/cure the guest’s homosexuality, and ensured that she’s experienced in it. Lawyer Garik Galikyan, who is a member of the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia and founder of Galikyan law office in Yerevan and its branch in the Netherlands, was made anxious by Hambardzumyan’s and Margaryan’s responses to a hypothesis brought by him that conflicted with the statements made by all other experts present. “Whenever I see them [LGBT people], I will smash them, trample them, and yes – they must be burnt…” Galikyan said.

In Armenia, there is no license psychologists are required to obtain in order to practice, and thus no license to be taken away in cases such as this, so PINK has initiated a letter to Ministry of Health to understand the Ministry’s standpoint on this matter. We call on psychological associations from around the world to make statements and voice their concerns on this matter.

New Generation Humanitarian NGO, as well as PINK Armenia, together with Anti-Discrimination Coalition has initiated a complaint against Galikyan to the Ethics Committee of the Chamber of Advocates in Armenia.

We’ll keep our partners updated on the proceedings of the case.

February 22, 2016

Trainings, Queer Talks and Discussions on Transgender Issues

In February, PINK Armenia conducted trainings on Social Justice with 32 attendees, and hosted several events for LGBTQ people. During the newly initiated Queer Talk series, participants form their own agenda for discussions. “Queer identity” and the first Armenian LGBT novel by Armen Ohanyan-Mommyland:Flag, about three friends: Nar, a transvestite who has been beaten and kicked out of his home for wearing women’s clothing; Sam and Ando, gay men whose romance ends with Sam’s death in the army, were discussed in February. During a discussion on transgender issues, trans people, together with their fellow LGBQ friends, discussed the challenges and discrimination they face both from the wider society and the LGBQ community. Overall, 58 LGBTQ people took part in events organized in February.

LGBT Activists Targeted in Hate Crime, then Mocked by Hospital Staff

On February 15, 2016, 3 unidentified persons attacked 5 LGBT activists in central Yerevan by physically assaulting them. The assailants cursed and began beating one of the activists, and when the victim’s friends rushed to help, they too were subjected to beatings. The attackers mocked the physical appearance of the first victim, and used homophobic slurs. Two of the victims are staff members of PINK Armenia. The victims filed a report on the attack with the police shortly afterward. The following day, when the first victim admitted himself to the N1 hospital in Yerevan, he once again faced discrimination, being told by medical professionals, “Come, let’s do a blood test on you. Let’s see if you have a deviance.” PINK has filed a complaint with the Ministry of Health about the conduct of the medical professionals. 

PINK Armenia thanks all for the supportive statements following the attack, and will keep you updated on the investigation process.

February 21, 2016

The Biggest LGBTQ Gathering in Armenia Featuring a Drag Show

Taking into consideration requests from many LGBTQ community members, PINK organized a safe space for LGBTQ people to come together, express themselves openly and enjoy an exciting Drag Show. The event was attended by about 250 LGBTQ people and allies, which made it the biggest gathering in Armenia so far. The event was also significant because of the considerable number of transgender people in attendance.  Rejoicing, however, is almost always interrupted with the next instances of injustice and violence when it comes to LGBTQ people in Armenia, as soon following the celebration an attack took place on LGBT activists in Yerevan.