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Modern Armenia » 2009 » January


  •    Armenia’s ruling Republican party spokesman “doesn’t like gays”   

    A new rubric by Aravot daily intends presenting a more intimate portrait of Armenian politicians and other ‘famous people’ chatting about family, first date, sex… Today it was Eduard Sharmazanov’s turn. He is a spokesman of the ruling Republican party in Armenia.

    Perhaps being ‘inspired’ by Armenia’s endorsement of UN gay rights statement (ruling party?), he expressed his feelings towards sexual minorities, “as Armenian guy” of “normal Armenian value system”.

    Eduard Sharmazanov says: “Apart from being a politician, I live my life following a normal Armenian value system. I accept that a person has rights which should not be violated but, as Armenian guy, I don’t accept, for example, sexual minorities and strongly object such phenomenon”.

    Tags: Armenia, Eduard Sharmazanov, UN

  •    Hate, Lies & Ignorance – well known Armenian environmentalist Karine Danielyan attacks government for signing UN gay rights statement   

    It’s a threat to national security! It’s a disease!’ – says formerly respected Armenian environmentalist, head of the association “For Sustainable Human Development” NGO Karine Danielyan.

    ‘It’s a matter of fighting discrimination and inequality’ – says Dzyunik Aghajanyan, chief of international department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . My respects to Dzyunik Aghajanyan.

    After Armenia endorsed historic UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which in itself was a historic occasion, I was expecting negative reactions and attacks towards government for their signature. But I was not expecting this attack to come from a well known Armenian environmentalist Karine Danielyan, head of the association “For Sustainable Human Development”, whom I’ve always respected and regarded as an intelligent person.

    She called homosexuality a “disease” and a “threat to the national security”. She has doctoral degree. She’s been working for years with UN agencies, other international organisations. Her daughter, Ms. Elizabeth Danielyan, is the head of World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Armenia. If Dr. Karine Danielyan had any doubts about WHO classification of diseases, she could have easily asked about it Ms. Elizabeth Danielyan. Not asking or ‘not knowing’ or ‘not wanting to know’ does not excuse her ignorance in this particular case. She is not a random person whom journalists stopped in the street and asked a question about sexual orientation or gay rights.

    She is ‘worried’ that with this statement, signed at the UN, LGBT Armenians would be ‘forced’ into the Armenian culture. As if we are not part of the Armenian culture or society. Charents, Parajanov…

    Apparently, she is scared of ‘gay epidemic’ which will threaten the ‘sustainable development’ of Armenian nation. You know, the same old story of gays threatening the demography of nations. She mentioned those ridiculous numbers of “current 4-5% of gays” turning into 40% in future. If we take her logic for a moment, how come during the last decades or so our country experienced continuous drop in birth rate, increased migration and other factors affecting reproduction, which she herself mentioned? Whose fault is this? Not gays’ who are not yet part of the “culture”. According to her own logic.

    Number of gay people is not (and will not be) increasing, Dr. Danielyan. It’s just when the level of tolerance towards minorities increases in the society, they become more visible, they start living without hiding who they are, without living a double life which you presumably more comfortable with.

    Dr. Danielyan particularly scared of the following ‘apocalyptic’ scenario: children entering schools and reading books which tell them of “three types of love” – woman+woman, man+ woman, and man+man. When I entered the school, Dr. Danielyan, there was absolutely no access or exposure to any gay related literature or “culture”. I did not read books on “three types of love”. That did not make me straight.

    She then said that she is against violence towards gays. I have a question. What do you do in the face of “threats to the national security” (your words, Dr. Danielyan)? Yes, you are right. You neutralise those threats.

    Person who supposedly cares about environment has no or little respect to the human diversity. I would suggest all funding organisations which support Dr. Karine Danielyan’s NGO to withdraw or freeze their support conditional to her passing equality training. Dr. Danielyan urgently needs one.

    She was in a company of two other persons. One of them was Harutyun Mesropyan, “management expert” I never heard of before. He brought an example of Israel which according to Mr. Mesropyan abstains from signing similar documents. “If Israel listened to international advice or signed international documents, they would not be able to exist as a country”, – said Mr. Mesropyan. First, Israel has the best record for respecting gay rights in Middle East. Then… Here is just a quick remark. Harutyun Mesropyan is lying. Israel signed the UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (sources: 1; 2; 3). [Similarly, Hraparak correspondent wrongly put Georgia among countries which “did not sign”. Georgia did sign the UN statement.] Wishful thinking, perhaps.

    He then went on further comparing beatings of gay persons with similar beatings of “thousands of other young persons” implying that there is no statement to protect the latter’s rights. You are missing the point, Mr. Mesropyan. As the head of PINK Armenia rightly pointed out in his commentary, the fundamental difference here is that gay person was beaten because who he was, because of his sexual orientation, which significantly aggravates the case. While physical assault is to be condemned in any situation, consider this. Would you put an equal mark between beating an Armenian guy because he is Armenian, and beating a guy who happens to be Armenian because of any unrelated to his nationality cause? I bet you won’t. And rightly so.

    The same “expert” claimed that Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsed the UN statement without consulting with the representatives of gay community in Armenia thus “jeopardising rights of sexual minorities”. And this became a headlining point in some Armenian media reports. WOW. As if he cares. Following his logic, I wonder why did not he consult with the representatives of LGBT community before making ‘statements’ to media. While I would certainly encourage Armenian government to consult with the representatives of LGBT community in Armenia on related issues, the UN statement was so straightforward in its condemnation of all sorts of discriminations and persecutions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and calling for respect for human rights and equality, that I wonder what they should have consulted for? Imagine these sorts of questions. Do you want to be discriminated or not? Do you want to be persecuted or not? Do you want your rights to be protected equally with the other segments of our society or not?.. Marasmic. However, consultation with gay groups would be a desired option to discuss ways of explaining the meaning and importance of the UN statement to the public, which is sadly lacking for now.

    There was another person at the media club. Infamous ex-environmentalist Khachik Stamboltsyan. I am afraid, commenting his statements would be a complete waste of time as this guy turned itself into a clinical case full of manias. According to him, masons and gays together are in a plot to destroy the earth…(and this is not the first time he is making such ‘statements’) I will stop here. It’s totally ludicrous.

    With all this negativity, there is one pretty positive and encouraging sign with this story. The positivism is associated with the chief of international department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Dzyunik Aghajanyan. It’s very encouraging to hear intelligent words from a person who is in charge of the MFA international department. She says that the very reason of the UN statement is to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination.

    She stated clearly and unambiguously that everyone should be equal before the law, regardless of sexual orientation. There should be no discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    MFA representative said: “Yes, that’s true, we do not have this problem to the extent of other countries. For that very reason, to prevent it from reaching that extent, we signed this statement. There should be no violence, discrimination against [gays], their human rights should not be violated. Sadly, we have such evidence.”

    According to Dzyunik Aghajanyan, the statement says that regardless of sexual orientation (identity), a person shall not be subjected to violence, harassment or discrimination of any kind. «I do not think that in our country there will be people who will say that it is not true and that the law should be applied in different ways, depending on the sexual orientation. The law is identical for all”. Sadly, there will be many people in Armenia who would disagree with Ms. Aghajanyan’s statement.

    Aravot daily asked Dzyunik Aghajanyan what would her reaction be if she passed through the children park with her son and witnessed two men kissing. How she would explain this “incident” to her child? Dzyunik Aghajanyan responded saying that “even if it’s a couple of woman and man kissing, you would not stare at them. It’s a matter of differences in approaches; it depends on how you should bring up your child. Creating taboos is not a solution”.

    As far as I am aware, Dzyunik Aghajanyan is the first high ranking Armenian official to clearly and unambiguously voice her opinion against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in such an explicit way and under such a difficult conditions. Well done, Ms. Aghajanian. My respects.

    Tags: Armenia, Dzyunik Aghajanyan, Elizabeth Danielyan, Georgia, Harutyun Mesropyan, Israel, Karine Danielyan, Khachik Stamboltsyan, LGBT, MFA, Middle East, NGO, PINK, Sustainable Human Development, UN, World Health Organisation, WOW

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