Friday, 31 March 2017

Parliamentary election in Armenia #armvote17 and LGBT rights

I have no much hopes left for elections in Armenia under current circumstances.

I know that at the end it will be the ruling Republican party and related to them & ex-president Kocharyan Prosperous Armenia party that will have a majority share in the next parliament.

I know that this election will not be clean and fair. Yet another “step forward” blah-blah…

I do not have a favourite party or political alliance to endorse. But the following list is my definite DO NOT VOTE for:
  • Republican party of Armenia 
  • Tsarukyan alliance (Prosperous Armenia) 
  • ARF Dashnaktsutyun 
  • Armenian Renaissance (‘re-branding’ of Orinats Yerkir by disgraced Artur Baghdasaryan)
  • Communist party. The only political party that explicitly included anti-LGBT statement within their election programme (կուսակցությունը պատրաստվում է «պայքարել համասեռամոլության, տրանսգենդերների» դեմ)։


This is the first election in Armenia when political parties or their reps are being questioned by civil society activists and some media outlets on their attitude towards LGBT rights as part of election campaign.


Of course, we are not there yet when LGBT Armenians would be perceived as powerful force that could influence the election results. For this we need free and fair election system in place, and much more vocal and open presence of LGBT people in the country. However, this is a step in the right direction.

4 political parties/alliances (out of 9 participating in this parliamentary election) replied to the pre-election survey of the “Partnership for Open Society” initiative: Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanian (ORO) alliance; Yelq (“Way Out”) alliance; Free democrats; and ARF Dashnaktsutyun. They all answered ‘Yes’ to the question on whether LGBT people should have the same rights as other citizens. However, I will never trust that ARF Dashnaktsutyun in Armenia genuinely believes in equal rights of all citizens until and unless they come clean re their high level reps support for DIY firebombers. Instead of reprimanding them, those homophobic reps remained on the highest positions in the party's Armenian branch and even got promoted to the ministerial level within the government as part of their alliance with the ruling Republican party.

Of course, it’s one thing to answer ‘Yes’ to a non-binding general question, it’s another thing to find out the substance of their stance.

lgbtnews.am keeps doing great job in challenging MPs, NGOs and other politicians and civil society representatives in Armenia on LGBT rights.

In the context of upcoming parliamentary election, they questioned so far ORO, Yelq and Congress/PPA alliance reps. The most straightforward answer was presented by ORO rep Hovsep Khurshudyan. To note, Hovsep of Zharangutyun (“Heritage”) party consistently (and not only during election period) supported human rights issues in Armenia, including LGBT rights, although it is not clear whether his views represent views of the alliance or rather some in Zharangutyun party. I have no doubts that head of Zharangutyun party Raffi Hovhannisyan genuinely supports LGBT rights too. I will never forget his appearance in front of gay-friendly DIY bar in Yerevan soon after firebombing. However, I have no idea, for instance, what ex-MoD Seyran Ohanyan’s views are regarding this matter.

Congress/PPA alliance (LTP) rep Arman Musinyan did not clearly answer to the similar question although in general terms voiced firmly against discrimination of all citizens.

Questioned more specifically re LGBT rights Yelq rep Alen Simonyan reiterated the position of their alliance about equal rights and human rights for all but resisted attempts to single out any specific group.

Friday, 24 March 2017

US embassy in Yerevan reaffirms its commitment to support rights of LGBT Armenians

Great seeing continuous public support for LGBT rights by the US embassy in Yerevan and personally by US ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills.

*via US Embassy in Yerevan Facebook page


Մարտի 17-ին դեսպան Միլսը հյուրընկալել էր Հայաստանում ԼԳԲՏԻ համայնքի ներկայացուցիչներին՝ քննարկելու մարդու իրավունքների հետ կապված նրանց մտահոգությունները: Դեսպանը նշեց, որ ԱՄՆ դեսպանատունը շարունակում է հավատրիմ մնալ իր հանձնառությանը՝ աջակցել բոլոր հայաստանցիներին պաշտպանելու իրենց իրավունքները:

On March 17, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. hosted a lunch to discuss human rights concerns in the Armenian LGBTI community. The Ambassador emphasized that the U.S. Embassy respects and remains committed to supporting the rights of all Armenians.


Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Apricot Groves film: Iranian Armenian trans man returns to Armenia...

I want to see this film. At least based on trailer and reading about the film here and there, seems worth watching. And it's being showcased in a number of film festivals, including LGBT film festivals.

Hope it will be released soon in London or on VOD platform. And importantly in Armenia too.
***
Aram, an Iranian-Armenian trans man living in the U.S. since childhood, returns to Armenia to meet his girlfriend's conservative family. Over the course of the day-long journey, Aram's brother helps him prepare for the meeting, while also coming to terms with Aram's transition. Written and directed by Pouria Heidary Oureh, this quiet and introspective film beautifully illustrates the bittersweetness of reconnecting with a culture that may not be accepting of who you have become.



*Via Outfest (also here)

**Pictures via film's FB page






Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

X Factor Armenia judges: homophobes, closets and… drag


Egor Glumov

X Factor Armenia judge. Works as a presenter at homophobic radio station - radio Van. Self-proclaimed “militant homophobe”. To be more precise: “Christian and militant homophobe”, as he describes himself on a bio page for X Factor Armenia judges.


And here is Egor Glumov in drag, celebrating his workplace birthday. Or shall we say ‘celebrating’ himself?

*source of pictures: Tert.am
***

Garik, aka Ekaterin

X Factor Armenia judge. He is the author of lyrics for Armenia Eurovision entry Aram MP3 song Not Alone. But he is more known in Armenia as Ekaterin for his comedy sketches in drag.


When this blog exposed homophobic statements by Aram MP3, followed by Aram’s apology, Garik was all silent in Copenhagen where the song contest took place. As soon as he arrived back in Yerevan’s Zvartnots airport, he suddenly became all vocal, you know the fake macho-style type vocal, with a series of homophobic outbursts. [There is a saying in Armenian re this type of people: Հայաստանից դուրս կուռկուռի ձագ են դառնում]

And in his capacity of X Factor judge, Garik, aka Ekaterin, on the very day when the world marks IDAHOT, shouted that he is fighting too but on the side of homophobes. (watch this video from 1:17)
***

Andre

X Factor Armenia judge. Andre was the first representative of Armenia in Eurovision in 2006.


On this video (from 26:40) from one of past seasons of X Factor Armenia he burst into homophobic rant when a participant dedicated his performance to IDAHOT. It’s hardly a secret who Andre really likes being with and which clubs he attends when in US or Europe.
***

To sum up:

You do not have to expose details of your private life. You do not have to be gay rights activist. But you don’t need to be a f*cking homophobic bully on TV or elsewhere. And if you do, there will be people out there to expose your hypocrisy.
***

P.S. I wonder if X Factor license that Shant TV - I assume - holds allows such displays of homophobic hatred.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Australian Armenian same-sex marriage supporter Gladys Berejiklian appointed Premier of Australia’s most populous state

*picture - via FAIRFAX/Huffington Post

Australian Armenian Gladys Berejiklian was appointed Premier of Australia’s most populous New South Wales state (with capital Sydney). What makes this appointment a particularly good news for me is her support for marriage equality and LGBT community.

According to ABC, “She is a private woman who supports same-sex marriage, is compassionate towards the plight of refugees and helped sign off on the Government's signature infrastructure projects.”

Interestingly, Australian media specifically mentions that her support for same-sex marriage is “at odds with her Armenian Orthodox Church”.

In an interview with local media in 2015, Gladys Berejiklian said people had strong views about marriage equality but believed most people on the north shore would support a change in the law.
“I get a sense that as far as my electorate’s concerned that the majority — while I do know there are people who don’t support it and I want to acknowledge they’ve got a right to express those views — I would think the silent majority would support it, I personally do,” she said.
Australian Marriage Equality (AME) and Australians for Equality (A4E) today welcomed the support of the new NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for marriage equality.
“We congratulate Gladys Berejiklian on becoming Premier of NSW and thank her for her support for marriage equality and the LGBT community,” Australian Marriage Equality Co-Chair, Alex Greenwich said. 
“Premier Berejiklian joins a growing number of Liberal Party leaders who support marriage equality, including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgeman.”

From her bio on Wikipedia: “Berejiklian was born in Sydney, the eldest of three daughters born to Armenian immigrant parents, Krikor and Arsha. Her grandparents were orphaned in the Armenian Genocide in 1915. Berejiklian spoke only Armenian until she was five years old, when she began learning English.”

“Berejiklian became the second woman to hold the office of Premier, after Labor's Kristina Keneally, who served in the position from 2009 to 2011, and the first female Liberal Premier in Australia.”