Monday, 27 December 2010

“Unnatural” national security ‘top’/‘bottom’ Arthur Baghdasaryan says homosexuality “extremely dangerous” for Armenia

You will hardly find people in Armenia who take Arthur Baghdasaryan and his party - part of the governing coalition - “Orinats Yerkir” [‘Rule of Law’] (or as people call it “hOrinats Yerkir” - word play in AM - turning ‘Rule of Law’ into ‘Made-up’/‘Fake’/‘Invented’/‘Fictitious’...) with respect or seriousness. But he & party have been successfully and regularly used by others. Basically, this is the main calling of the man and his party - being used.

Answering to the query by Armenian homophobic tabloid Iravunk re “flourishing of sexual deviants” in Armenia, Arthur Baghdasaryan, in his capacity as a secretary of Armenia’s National Security Council (!), said he is “against limitations of human rights, in general” but considers homosexuality as “extremely dangerous” for Armenia. He called homosexuality “unnatural” and “unacceptable” for Armenians as the first nation to accept Christianity, with “traditional values”.
Zhamanak daily, via Armenia Today: Тема гомосексуализма стала своего рода поводом для отвода глаз от более серьезных внутриполитических и социальных проблем.

Как пишет оппозиционная газета «Жаманак», «Иравунк» обратился к секретарю Совбеза Армении Артуру Багдасаряну за комментариями на тему «Распространение и процветание  лиц, имеющих сексуальные отклонения».  Исходя из статуса секретаря Совбеза, Артур Багдасарян дал следующие комментарии: «Подобное поведение не пристало армянской нации. Для народа, первого принявшего христианство, семья и традиционные ценности являются приоритетом. Неестественно все то, что неприемлемо. Я против  ограничения прав человека в целом, но гомосексуализм считаю крайне опасным для Армении». [...]
I am not going to discuss the ridiculousness of asking such question, and asking it to the national security official, implying both with the question and with the answer that gays are ‘threat to the national security’. (you can’t expect anything less from Iravunk tabloid, it has to be ridiculous, pseudo-patriotic etc.etc.)


Yes, it is “unnatural” that losers and political prostitutes such as Arthur Baghdasaryan continue heading the National Security Council in Armenia. This is indeed “extremely dangerous” for Armenia. Depending on the direction of the wind blow, he would sell everything and everyone, himself including. And he is very cheap. Putting it Twitter way - it’s #Fail all the way through.

There is a good quote (RU) for people like Arthur Baghdasaryan in the article by Zhamanak daily re above.
via Armenia Today (cont.): В этом вопросе, пишут авторы публикации, интересна не позиция Багдасаряна,  а тот факт, кого заинтересовало его мнение конкретно по этому вопросу и почему именно сейчас. «Вся суть в том, что у Армении есть множество проблем – конституционных, правовых, политических, экономических и социальных, и в подобных условиях поднятие вопроса сексуальных меньшинств на уровне секретаря Совбеза как минимум странно. Странно с той точки зрения, что главной угрозой национальной безопасности Армении являются отнюдь не сексуальные меньшинства, а политические меньшинства, в число которых входит и сам Артур Багдасарян. Именно эти политические меньшинства, выступая в роли приложения властей, пытаются перевести внимание общественности с реальных угроз национальной безопасности, на искусственные вымышленные угрозы. Раз уж вопрос дошел до морали, естественного и неестественного, то в реальности угрозой номер один для Армении является тот факт, что для многих политических деятелей, в том числе и Артура Багдасаряна, стало естественной деятельностью обманывать народ, ругать власти самым жестоким образом, а потом лезть в задницу властей.  Именно в этом и состоит главная угроза, именно это наносит удар по обществу,  системе моральных ценностей, а также демографической картине Армении, поскольку пополняемая подобными политиками власть вынуждает многих покинуть страну. Вместо того, чтобы говорить о христианстве, следовало бы оглянуться в прошлое и выяснить, сколько христианских заповедей было нарушено одной подписью 29 февраля 2008 года (в эту ночь был организован разгон митинга, что впоследствии спровоцировало акцию 1 марта, в результате которой были жертвы – ARMENIA Today.)», - пишет газета «Жаманак».
Remind me what Armenia president Serj Sargsyan claimed in his latest speech? Something about the adherence to European values “from the produce displayed in the shop window and up to the state and legal structure”... Here is a quote (official English version of his speech) from
“When we talk about strengthening democracy, firm implanting of the European standards, these are not just slogans or idle words meant for other audiences. It is Armenia which needs them foremost, not Europe. This is our conscious course and our conviction. European democracy and rule of law are demands of our society, confirmed firmly on many occasions - at the elections, in criticizing the political forces, or in encouraging the same forces. 
The European standards - from the produce displayed in the shop window and up to the state and legal structure, must become exemplary for us. Today, the issue of becoming a full member of the European Union is not yet on our foreign policy agenda, however I would like to repeat that the European rules of the game and European standards must take roots in our country because these are high and time-tested standards. We need these standards to make considerable progress, to change lives of our citizens and to build up the organizational strength of our society.”
Yeah, sure, with such a ‘dream-team’ of ‘devotees’ to European values....

*source of photo: Photolur, via A1+ (from my archive: Disgrace of the Day - Arthur Baghdasaryan)

Saturday, 18 December 2010

British Armenian Vicken Couligian appointed new chair of trustees at Manchester Pride

It's with great pleasure I'd like to share this news with you. An indication of well deserved respect in the community. Well done, Vicken !!

@davechapman: so thrilled to know Vicken, who is going to be Chair of Manchester Pride 2011, my fave Pride event :) congratulations to him! @unzippedblog

@unzippedblog: @davechapman @jamead1981 Fab news. Well done, Vicken!! I could not make it to to Manchester Pride 2010 but will have to make it next year ;)

Manchester Pride appoints new Chair of Trustees

James Sanders

15 December 2010

Vicken Couligian has been appointed as the new chair of trustees at Manchester Pride following a recent Annual General Meeting.

Couligian will replace Andrew Stokes who has recently stepped down after eight years.

He has volunteered for Manchester Pride since 2005 and joined the board of trustees in 2008. He is also on the board for Gaydio and is a mentor for the Albert Kennedy Trust. Vicken currently works for Nexus Solicitors in the Personal Injury department.

Andrew Stokes, former chair of Manchester Pride, said: “As Manchester Pride approaches its 21st birthday I feel this is the perfect time for Vicken to take the reins as the festival moves forward. I've had the privilege of seeing Pride grow into an event that attracts over 45,000 people whilst remaining true to its roots – a festival that raises money for local LGBT and HIV communities. I’m confident that with Vicken’s passion and drive Pride will continue to grow as a world-class event.”

Jackie Crozier, festival director of Manchester Pride, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Vicken on board as our new chair. He’s made an outstanding contribution to Manchester Pride and the LGBT community over the years, and I’m very much looking forward to working closely with him in the future.”

Couligian, chair of Manchester Pride, said: “I would like to thank Andrew Stokes for all his hard work over the last eight years. His will be a very tough act to follow. It’s a great honour to take on this position and I’m really looking forward to continuing my work at Manchester Pride.”

He will head up the board of trustees which includes: Clare Simpson (marketing director for the Royal Exchange Theatre), Elaine Clarke (chief executive for Baa Bar Group Plc), John Ryan (managing editor of BBC Radio Manchester), Les Pratt (producer for BBC Radio 3), Steph Kay (owner of Vanilla bar), Tim Pickstone (chief executive of a UK local councilors organisation), and Michael Pollard (operations director at Taurus bar).

A1+: Gay-themed reporting with correct use of terminology and more appropriate categorisation - "Նույնասեռականներին չեն տուգանում"

UPDATE 19 December 2010: When I was writing this post, I tried to concentrate on positive changes I noticed in reporting by A1+, as it’s always important to encourage such changes. However, at times, when you concentrate on positive, you miss mistakes that need to be voiced and amended further.

I received an email message from the guy whose interview was featured by A1+. He made few important clarifications and comments, and I especially agree with his points re sex workers and presenting LGBT people as part of some kind of organisation (this is another mistake frequented by Armenian media). He mentioned that there was another version of the video that was more acceptable, and he will ask A1+ to amend or replace this video report. He then specifically touched opon two important mistakes made in the report (see below extracts from his message to Unzipped: Gay Armenia).

I hope A1+ will take into account his comments and in future we will see better examples of reporting on sensitive matters by this - currently only online but highly popular - Armenian TV station.

“1. In the written stuff, they mention: “«Կարող են ասենք առեւտրային սեքս-աշխատողներից մի քանիսին վերցնեն ու ներկայացնեն որպես ԼԳՏԲ համայնքի անդամ, ինչը, իհարկե, այդպես չէ»,-նշեց նա: “

Well, I never said that! I say another thing in video! I consider them to be the part of the community, but they are not the face of the community: I didn’t mean they shall become exiles in the community itself. What I mean is they make stereotypes by talking about gay, especially transvestite sex workers and later representing it as a whole LGBT (mainly gay) community. Are not heterosexual prostitutes part of heterosexual ‘community’? So are LGBT sex workers part of LGBT community. The attitude toward them, now that’s another matter I did not touched at all! As a matter of fact, I meant their experience! They captured some sex workers, made a ‘reportage’, uploaded it to youtube & wrote “hamaseramolner@ komaygum”, I believe they meant ‘gay people in the park (komaygi)’.

2. Next, they say in video: “Hayastanum GORTSOX LGTB hamaynqi nerkayacucichneric mek@”.

Well... like it’s some political party or an organization... would they say “gortsox” for heteros? I don’t think so.”

Good use of terminology and more appropriate rubric "society" for the report by A1+. (frequently, Armenian media puts gay-themed news under the "lifestyle" regardless of the content)

See, after all, criticism, and as a direct consequence of it - trainings, direct contacts, and desire to change (become better) by some (not all, of course) media outlets, pays off. Changes are possible, even if they may seem as relatively small ones, for now.

I did criticise A1+ in past with regards to their gay-themed reporting. Glad to see my favourite Armenian TV station (still deprived of broadcasting rights - see recent statement by the Human Rights Watch) making efforts to learn from own mistakes and change for better, as evidenced by quite a few recent gay-themed broadcasts and reports.

Նույնասեռականներին չեն տուգանում


Սեռական փոքրամասնությունների ներկայացուցիչները հերքում են մամուլում հրապարակված այն լուրերը, թե իրենց եւ հատկապես սեքս-առեւտրով զբաղվող նույնասեռականներին ոստիկանությունում տուգանում են 100 դոլար:

Հայաստանում գործող ԼԳՏԲ / Լեսբուհի (կին նույնասեռական), գեյ (տղամարդ նույնասեռական), բիսեքսուալ (երկսեռական), տրանսգենդեր (գենդերափոխ)/ համայնքի անդամներից մեկը, ով չցանկացավ, որ իր անունը նշվի, «Ա1+»-ի հետ զրույցում փաստեց, որ իրենց իրավունքների պաշտպանության առումով Հայաստանում թեև անելիքներ կան, սակայն նաեւ նկատելի են դրական տեղաշարժեր:

Ըստ նրա, եթե նախկինում հասարակության լայն շրջանակներում նույնասեռականների մասին արգելվում էր խոսելը, ապա հիմա նույն այդ հասարակության մի մասը գոնե բաց է երկխոսության համար: Դրական տեղաշարժը նա պայմանավորեց Հայաստանի հետ եվրոպական կառույցների խորացող մերձեցմամբ:

Առաջին հաղթահարված պատնեշը, ըստ նրա, այն է, որ արդեն հասարակության մեջ, մամուլում ու հասարակական կազմակերպություններում իրենց մասին խոսելիս կիրառվում է ոչ վիրավորական, ճշգրիտ տերմինալոգիա:

Միաժամանակ, ըստ նրա, ԼԳՏԲ համայնքի անդամների համար դեռեւս չլուծված է մնում հասարակական վայրերում անհանդուրժողական վերաբերմունքը, անվայել ակնարկները:

«Կարող են վիրավորական բառեր ասել հատկապես, երբ իրենք խմբով են, իսկ դու մենակ ես: Նման դեպք եղավ Կասկադում, որտեղ ընկերներով ուղղակի նստած էինք, մեզ մոտեցան ու սկսեցին վիրավորել: Մենք ի վերջո, դիմեցինք ոստիկանություն, ու նրանք չքացան»,-պատմեց նա:

Համայնքի ներկայացուցչի խոսքով` թեեւ այսօր իրենց նկատմամբ գործածվում է հիմնականում բանավոր վիրավորանք, սակայն եղել են նաեւ նույնասեռականներին փողոցում ծեծելու դեպքեր:

Այս ամենի պատճառ մեր զրուցակիցը համարում է այն, որ սեռական փոքրամասնությունների ներկայացուցիչները դիտվում են միեւնույն լույսի ներքո:

«Կարող են ասենք առեւտրային սեքս-աշխատողներից մի քանիսին վերցնեն ու ներկայացնեն որպես ԼԳՏԲ համայնքի անդամ, ինչը, իհարկե, այդպես չէ»,-նշեց նա:

Առկա իրավիճակը շտկելու միակ տարբերակ նույնասեռականները համարում են հասարակության մեջ իրենց մասին ճիշտ տեղեկատվության տարածումը, կարծրատիպերի վերացումը:

*Related post: Armenia: "Targeted media campaign against us, say trans sex workers" (

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Gay man was stabbed to death in Azerbaijan in an alleged hate crime

Online news outlets in Azerbaijan report on an alleged hate crime "on the grounds of sexual orientation". Reports of 14 December 2010 state that Namik Eyvazov, 52 yrs old resident of Jalilabad region in Azerbaijan, was murdered in his own apartment 3 days ago. Police was alerted by neighbours who became suspicious after noticing that the front door to Eyvazov's apartment was left open. He was a local tailor, lived alone, and he was gay.

When I first read of the incident, I wondered how they knew that Eyvazov was gay. I thought it was perhaps due to 'local knowledge'. But according to one Azeri media, his "non-traditional sexual orientation" was "reported" by pathologists who examined the body.

Multiple "stabbing-cutting injuries" ("seven") were found on his body (he was stabbed in the chest and abdomen).

As per police, this murder was most likely committed "on the grounds of sexual orientation", because Eyvazov was not involved in any suspicious activities. As of today, no one has been detained. The case is being considered under the "premeditated murder" article of the criminal code.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Armenia: "Targeted media campaign against us, say trans sex workers" (

Also relevant:
Բաց հարց Հրապարակ օրաթերթին
«Տրանսերը» նամակ չեն գրել

*Source: (+ here; and AM)

A few trans sex workers came to the editorial offices of earlier this week to protest two recent stories published by local daily Hraparak.

In the conversation which ensued, the guests spoke about their relationship with the police and the consequences of publishing material without verifying the facts, which could very well endanger their lives.

The photos in the video were supplied by the individuals in the photos and are published here with their consent. They did not, however, wish to have their faces visible in the video. The dialogue is in Armenian only.

"I'm the only trans Vika, I did not give any information to the paper Hraparak. I don't know who could've done something like this against me," said local Armenian cross-dresser Vika, commenting on a story published by local daily Hraparak in which a transvestite by the name of Vika threatened a businessman by the name of Hovik. The paper informed that the story was prepared on the basis of a telephone conversation. The editors say that a transvestite named Vika called Hraparak and described the incident, which they subsequently published. [Unzipped: Gay Armenia - Տրանսվեստիտը սպառնում է բացահայտել իրեն սպառնացող գործարարին]

Visiting the editorial office of along with two other gay cross-dressers, Vika Swarovski insists that he's the only known transvestite Vika in Armenia, and those sources who presented themselves as such aim to endanger him. spoke with Hraparak assistant editor Vahagn Tevosyan and asked him to comment on Vika's statement.

"I am officially saying, not only one, but also a few dozen Vika's can contact you and say that they're not the Vika who called you, but we don't insist, that's that trans Vika who contacted you," he said.

"Whoever wrote that, let them prove it; if there's been a phone conversation, let them tell us the number," said Vika, adding that if they don't reveal who did this, he is prepared to take Hraparak to court.

"If they don't clarify who did it, I'll take them to court. I'm ready to complain. The one who presented himself as Vika and the one who wrote the open letter [referring to another story published by Hraparak] are the same person. They invented it and wrote it," said Vika, visibly upset.

"Let him take us to court, but this is all so absurd. What is he going to say, he's going to say that he's not the Vika who called us, and then?" said Tevosyan.

Recall that on Dec. 7, Hraparak published an open letter signed by "a group of homosexuals," which, according to another trans sex worker Lorena Madonna Diva, couldn't have been written by them, since, for example, the Armenian word "hamaseramol" is used in the letter which is a derogatory term. [Uzipped: Gay Armenia - Միասեռականների բաց նամակը ՀՀ ոստիկանապետին]

Further, according to Lorena, the statement in the letter that trans sex workers pay $100 to local police in order to work in the Children's Park (near Yerevan City Hall) is untrue. Also, the license plate number of the police vehicle noted in the letter is unfamiliar to them. Note that the community of trans sex workers in Yerevan is quite small and it's unlikely for them not to know each other or that another group of "homosexuals" who also work in the park would have written the letter.

Upon's request, Hraparak also commented on the open letter they published.

"The eighth page of our paper is called publication of free speech. There we reserve space for such anonymous open letters," said Tevosyan.

According to Lorena, a targeted campaign has launched against them in the press recently. "They can't cook up anything [new], it began with writing against the Jehovah's Witnesses, then the emos and now us," she said.

"Every day, pedestrians, people, come and assault us, in quite a perverse way, they want us, having an interest, they begin to hit us, drive over us with their cars. We go to the police, but they respond to the case of whoever they can get money from. There are incidents where they beat, they kill in front of the eyes of the police, and the police say, that's too little for you, they have to burn you, pour gasoline and burn you," said Lorena.

Speaking to the two stories published by Hraparak, Lorena denies that any one of them could have written the letter or called in the incident. "Definitely it wasn't one of us, it was those publishers, they improvised. And all this to our detriment, police will get agitated at us, they'll come and shoot us, they'll take us to special departments at the police station, they'll hit us so hard... I know many such cases. Don't I have a right in Armenia, in my country, to express myself freely? I've told the police a thousand times, let's be friends, let's understand each other. They don't want to understand," she said.

Speaking to, PINK Armenia President Mamikon Hovsepyan explained the situation: "Perhaps someone called [Hraparak] and informed them, but the issue is you can't generalize and write on behalf of a group. That's unacceptable. With this, they want to create tension between the police and transvestites. By disseminating such inaccurate information and different false opinions, a tense situation is created among the public. Now they're trying to attune the public against transvestites, endangering the lives of the members of this vulnerable community."

Hovsepyan noted that the Human Rights Defender isn't engaged in such issues. "They cover up the complaints; they don't even include them in their annual reports. When incidents happen, they don't appeal to the Ombudsman — they've lost hope." [...]

L-day: «Համբուրի´ր ինձ, ես լեսբիանահայ եմ»


[...] Թրուին Հայաստանում մնաց երկու ամիս և, հետևելով իր հիմնական նախասիրություններին` միասեռականություն, արվեստ, հետզհետե ծանոթացավ կին և մեծ մասամբ քուիր (queer) արվեստագետների գործունեությանը:

«Ես լեսբուհի եմ ու ակտիվ եմ եղել կանանց և քուիր կանանց խմբերում դեռ 80-ականների սկզբից»,- ասում է Թրուին:

«Քուիր» եզրը Արևմուտքում կիրառվում է սեռական փոքրամասնությունների և գենդերային ինքնությունների առնչությամբ, այն սկսել է շրջանառվել նաև Հայաստանում: Օրինակ` իրենց քուիր են բնորոշում Querring Yerevan բլոգի արվեստագետները:

«Արևմուտքի շատ քուիրների համար պայքարն արդեն անցած փուլ է,- ասում է Թրուին,- մենք կարող ենք ամուսնանալ օրենքով, երեխաներ որդեգրել ու մեծացնել, ու ոչ մեկն աչքերը չի չռի, եթե ասես, որ պաշտոնական բիզնես-ընթրիքին բերելու ես քո ընկերուհուն»:

Այսպես Թրուիի մտքով անցավ գրել Հայաստանի քուիրների մասին: Ժամանակի ընթացքում «Հայկական ռապսոդիա» հոդվածը վերածվեց մշակութային հետազոտության:

«Մտադիր չէի համալսարանական մակարդակի գործ անել: Նպատակս էր ներկայացնել երկիրը ու ցուցադրել, թե ինչ ընտիր արվեստ են անում Հայաստանի մի քանի քուիր արվեստագետները, ուշադրություն հրավիրել նրանց աշխատանքի վրա, հետաքրքրացնել մարդկանց»,- ասում է Թրուին:

Նա չի տխրում, որ այդ արվեստագետներից ոմանք «տնկում են իրենց քթերը» և քննադատում Թրուիի ոչ պրոֆեսիոնալ մոտեցումները:

Անկախ ամեն ինչից` Թրուիի հետազոտությունը մի շատ յուրօրինակ Հայաստանի մասին է, անծանոթ նախևառաջ Հայաստանին:

Նա ցույց է տալիս մի այլ երկիր, որտեղ կանայք քաղաքականապես գիտակից են և առաջ են մղում ժամանակը:

Նոյեմբերի 17-ին Բելգիայի Գենտ քաղաքի L-day-ի (Lesbian day/week-լեսբիական օր/շաբաթ) շրջանակներում նա ներկայացրեց այդ հետազոտությունը` դասախոսություն-միջոցառում կազմակերպելով Հայաստանի և հայ քուիր կանանց/արվեստագետների մասին:

Միջոցառման ժամանակ մեծ ոգևորություն էր առաջացրել «Համբուրի´ր ինձ, ես լեսբիանահայ եմ» գրությամբ վերնաշապիկը, նաև երաժիշտ-արվեստագետ Ծոմակ Օգայի առցանց պերֆորմանսը:

L-day-ը նա համարում է մեծ ազգային միջոցառում: Այս տարի այնտեղ առաջին անգամ ցուցադրվում էին նաև կին արվեստագետների գործեր: Թրուին չորս լուսանկար էր տպել Հայաստանի քուիր արվեստագետների գործերից ու ցուցադրել օրվա ընթացքում:

«Կարծեմ` համակարգողներ չկային»,- տխրում է նա` գլխի չընկնելով, որ ինքն է այդ համակարգողը, քանի որ իր հետազոտության մեջ ներկայացնում է ութ արվեստագետների` Սոնա Աբգարյանին, Արփի Ադամյանին, Լուսինե Թալալյանին, Լուսինե Վայաչյանին, Սվետլանա Անտոնյանին, Մելինե Տեր-Մինասյանին, Շուշան Ավագյանին, Ծոմակ Օգային:

Թրուին Երևանում գտավ կանանց իրավունքների խնդրով ակտիվորեն զբաղվող մի խումբ արվեստագետների ու գնահատեց դա «ստաժավորի» դիրքերից:

Հաջորդ տարի նա Հայաստան կգա արդեն մոտոցիկլով` կտրելով 4416 կիլոմետր:

Քանի որ Թրուի-«հեքիաթասացը» ցանկանում է այցելել նաև Վրաստան և Ադրբեջան, հավանաբար նա կամբողջացնի տարածաշրջանի քուիր պատկերը:

Կարին Գրիգորյան

Monday, 6 December 2010

Outrage as Armenia Fund Telethon promotes homophobia

UPDATE 29 April 2011: VO.X frontrunner Aram Rian has re-edited and replaced the controversial portion of the band’s "I Love Armenia" music video, by removing the reference to homosexuality as “perversion”. We have reached a mutual understanding with the group and consider this matter resolved as dialogue has taken place. We no longer have reason to believe either Aram Rian or VO.X is homophobic, and we wish them success in their future endeavors.
UPDATE 7 December 2010: Contrary to Twitter and Facebook reactions, the Executive Director of Armenia Fund, Inc. and the Executive in Charge of Production for Telethon 2010, officially denied that VO.X music video was aired during the Telethon 2010: "My name is Sarkis Kotanjian, I am the Executive Director of Armenia Fund, Inc. and the Executive in Charge of Production for Telethon 2010. Officially, I hereby state that no VO.X music video aired on Armenia Fund's Telethon 2010. Please stop this nonsense once and for all." (see comments section below).

The idea of fundraising for a good cause that unites Armenians all over the world is a good one and difficult to resist. However, over time, there have been growing questions whether the Armenia Fund ( and, or “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, is serving its purpose in its current format, citing corruption and state of human rights in Armenia, you name it... (e.g. see here)

And now, as if all the above were not enough, one more concern has been added to the list.

This year the Fund’s Telethon became infamous for all the wrong reasons by featuring homophobic music video of the Armenian band VO.X.

I am not going to repeat what I have already said about VO.X (here and here). There are reasons why this band entered the Armenia Homophobia Hall of Shame:

Homophobic music video by Armenian band VO.X disguised under "progressive ideas"

Armenian music band VO.X on PR defensive to 'justify' homophobia

Number of Facebook and Twitter users expressed their outrage re the promotion of homophobia during the Fund’s Telethon, with calls for boycott.
@unzippedblog As a gay man I was donating year after year to #Armenia Fund. The homophobic song during telethon show outraged me. It's over!

no cent to #ArmeniaFund if they want to create this kind of a Armenia…#homophobia #HateSpeech

Wow -Not surprised some #armeniafund folks are homophobic, but how on earth did the video get approved??? @unzippedblog
Armenia Fund must set the record straight once and for all, and clearly distance themselves from the homophobia displayed during the Telethon. They must ensure that similar incidents won’t happen again, and those responsible for choosing this band held accountable. Otherwise, they risk further antagonising (if not already) a significant proportion of Armenians from the Fund.

Until then, there is no way I could support the Armenia Fund. I call others to refrain from supporting it too.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Jirair Ratevosian: A letter to Diaspora on HIV/AIDS in Armenia


Today is World AIDS Day — the day of the year when the world’s attention is temporarily fixated on a social phenomenon that has stolen the lives of millions of people around the world over the last thirty years.

But there is some good news. A new report by the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) shows that the AIDS epidemic is beginning to change course as the number of people newly infected with HIV is declining and AIDS-related deaths are decreasing.

Yet, despite important advances over the last ten years, some 2.6 million people became newly infected with HIV last year. Africa continues to be the region most affected by the epidemic. But now a new trend is emerging: In seven countries, mostly in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, new HIV infection rates have increased by 25% in recent years.

Here’s the bad news. ARMENIA is #1 on that list. In our motherland, the epidemic is concentrated primarily among people who inject drugs, sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men. It is no coincidence the epidemic is spreading in populations that are socially marginalized and politically irrelevant. Stigma, discrimination and violence against LGBT Armenian and other vulnerable groups fuel the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Today, this injustice is tainting the moral character of our resilient people. The Armenian government, civil society groups, the private sector, the church, and the media all have a critical role to play in respond to our generation’s greatest challenge. And so do we.

As diaspora, we must face up to this new reality. We have a responsibility to raise awareness in our homes and in our communities—in schools, with lawmakers, community leaders, the media and the church. Above all, we must support our courageous brothers and sisters working in our homeland each and every day for equality and social justice.

Get involved-- write a letter to your local Armenian newspaper, encourage community leaders to raise awareness at events and support NGOs in Armenia fighting the good fight.


*Jirair Ratevosian, MPH, based in Washington D.C., chairs the International Health Advocacy and Policy Committee of the American Public Health Association, deputy director of public policy for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research

**posted on Facebook, Asbarez and The Armenian Weekly

*** And here is a perfect example of NGO that Jirair mentioned in his letter: PINK Armenia + few others who made this day a memorable one in Armenia with a clear human rights message.

"Our slogan today is 'Silence is not a Solution'; that is, by being silent or indifferent, we won't solve anything, we must speak particularly about the HIV virus, about human rights, so that we can prevent the increase [of the virus] in our region," said PINK Armenia NGO President Mamikon Hovsepyan during a march organized to mark World AIDS Day in Yerevan today. He noted that the focus of the demonstration is mainly on protecting human rights. (via

Monday, 29 November 2010

On 1 December 2010, Kim Kardashian WILL DIE

No, the reality vixen isn't actually dead, but Kim Kardashian and several other stars are quitting Twitter and Facebook until $1 million is raised for the charity Keep a Child Alive, which supports AIDS-stricken children around the world.

The organization released a group of ads displaying Kardashian and other celebrities in a coffin, claiming their "digital life" could be restored only when they hit the target of $ 1 million.

Lady Gaga, Serena Williams, and several other stars will join the foundation's ambassador Alicia Keys in supporting the effort in light of World AIDS Day. Supporters can visit or text "Kim" or other stars' names to 90999 to buy their digital lives back.


Keep a Child Alive

Buy Life

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Armenian media semiar/workshop on LGBT rights and reporting 12-14 November 2010, Tsaghkadzor, Armenia

I will start from the end. Lara Aharonian, prominent human rights activist based in Yerevan, summed it up perfectly on her blog post: the atmosphere, the event, the outcome. This link - LGBT and journalists: a journey through tolerance and mafia game! - was among the most re-tweeted under the Twitter hashtag #armLGBT.

When I posted the link to her blog post on Twitter, @LGBTAsylumNews re-tweeted it by commenting: “fantastic report on grassroots LGBT work with media in Armenia by @Lara_Aha”
RT @unzippedblog fantastic report on grassroots LGBT work with media in Armenia by @Lara_Aha #armLGBT
In a very recent past, I did criticise, at times pretty harsh, the British Council in Armenia for their failures in dealing with the LGBT related issues and effective (even if not intended) promotion of homophobic media outlets. Praise where praise is due. To the organiser - British Council Armenia, and participants, of course.

This type of workshops are exactly the type of initiatives that must be supported by bodies like the British Council if they want to promote and support changes for better in Armenia, and for real. While the immediate outcomes of this media workshop are indeed positive, its long-term success will depend on continuity of the process. Further media monitoring will give an idea whether this seminar made an impact (at least) on the work of those who participated.

Important update: Radio Van removed their joint highly praised #armLGBT media workshop article prepared by Arman from the radio station and Mamikon from PINK Armenia. I have to say, I am not surprised. I am (always!) ready to acknowledge positive changes, regardless of past history. But... Removal of this article means one thing to me. This particular radio station initially posted it to show off only. They didn't mean it. It was perhaps too honest for their 'standards'. You may still read the article (both parts) in full on Mamikon’s personal blog:

Ես կապ չունեմ նրանց հետ
Толерантность-шо це та ке?
And below are few more links prepared by participants following the media workshop.


Երկխոսությունը ծնում է հանդուրժողականություն
Խղճուկ ես դառնում, եթե պետությունը կողքիդ չի
Hetq Online:
Նա ընտրել է մարդկային հարաբերություններից ամենաբարդը
Lilit and Mary: Two Women Living Together in Armenia
Jenka’s blog
Ապրել այնպես, որ......
Լուսանկարչուհին իրեն է պատկերել
Photostory by Svetlana Antonyan ('Ocean') on A1+: artist, gay, society...

Here are how the events were unfolded at the media workshop, as reported on Twitter by participants @Lara_Aha, @ditord and @mmkarmenia (with few additional tweets and comments [] by myself @unzippedblog).

Day 1: 12 November 2010

Media workshop in Tsakhadzor, #Armenia to bring together journalists and LGBT activists for team reporting projects #armLGBT

in Tsaghkatsor, Seminar on #LGBT rights and media in #Armenia 12-14 November, will be moderating discussion on #tolerance #ArmLGBT

Follow @Lara_Aha @ditord @mmkarmenia for updates on #Armenia media seminar/workshop in Tsaghkadzor on #LGBT rights and reporting #armLGBT

#LGBT members and media people get to know each other, the ambiance a little tense but people r starting to open up #armLGBT #Armenia

@unzippedblog [present at media seminar are] journalists from A1+, hetq, Aravot, radio Van, Hraparak, Tert, IWPR #armLGBT

[also present at the seminar are] observers from #british Embassy, British council #armLGBT #armenia

@ditord is facilitating the introductions #armLGBT #armenia

the group is divided in 2: #LGBT and media. they will prepare a list of complaints against each other #armLGBT #armenia

the #LGBT community representatives expressed their concerns regarding media reporting and same the media group #armLGBT now will present

@ditord presenting the concerns and expectations of the media regarding the #LGBT community #armLGBT

radio van issue has been raised in the media group #armLGBT #armenia

What is the #LGBT community is expecting from the Armenian media? #armLGBT

media says: #LGBT community has to develop a better media strategy #armLGBT

media wants to know the needs of the #LGBT community in #Armenia #armLGBT

#LGBT community is presenting their concerns: first, use of language in the media, hamaseramol for example #armLGBT

second problem is the silence towards #LGBT issues in #Armenia media #armLGBT

3rd: lack of real investigation and references in articles related to #LGBT issues #armLGBT

misinformation distributed through media on #LGBT issues #armLGBT

another important concern: the fine line between hate speech and freedom of expression #LGBT #armLGBT #armenia

both sides presented, now the discussion starts between #LGBT and media #armLGBT #armenia

#LGBT representative is suggesting to present the right terminology regarding sexual orientation for use in media #armLGBT #Armenia

it's getting really hot in this conference room, heated debate #armLGBT #armenia

@Lara_Aha You should all go for drinks afterwards :) #armLGBT

Changes are possible #armLGBT

@unzippedblog actually we will play mafia :) afterwards #armLGBT

@ditord is presenting "tolerance in media" #armLGBT #armenia

it seems that there is a good start for communication between #LGBT and media groups #armLGBT #armenia

62.5% of ethnic minority groups media coverage in #southcaucasus 2004-2006 #armLGBT

0.4% of sexual minority group media coverage in #southcaucasus, 2004-2006 #armLGBT #LGBT #armenia

ALM is the most tolerant towards ethnic minorities apparently in Armenian TV and Aravot among the newspapers #armLGBT #armenia

sexual minorities are the most active in using #socialmedia in #armenia for their cause #armLGBT #LGBT

[these are questionable projections] according to kinsey method, in #Armenia 4% of male pop. is gay and 2% of female population - aprox. 65 000 men and 18 000 women #armLGBT

Vahan Ishkhanyan talking about Charents' gay poems published in inqnaqir and the issue around it #armLGBT #armenia

Vahan Ishkhanyan is presenting Chatents's homoerotic poems #armLGBT

end of day one, seminar media and #LGBT - interesting discussions /insights #armLGBT #armenia

Day 2: 13 November 2010

day 2: preparing articles with media representatives #armLGBT

Day 2: media training seminar on #LGBT issues. Today participants are paired to write articles on the issue #armLGBT #armenia

me and Arman from radio Van will prepare an article together, hope it will not be the most boring in the group #armLGBT

What we did for journalists, don't know yet. What they changed in me, forced to write an article:) #armLGBT

the team will be back soon to present their story drafts, can't wait. Some of them even went out in the city to do an opinion poll #armLGBT

watching a documentary filmed by one of the participant journalists in 2004 but refused for hatuk goti [TV programme], entitled "dziadzzni dak" #armLGBT

now journalists are asking honest questions about #LGBT isues, to understand more and getting answers from the #LGBT reps. #armLGBT #armenia

Tomorrow morning you can read Arman's article on radio Van's blog, for me it is perfect #armLGBT

some of the group working on the articles #armLGBT

first article MAmikon and Arman team #armLGBT #armenia

oops, we were even faster, the article is ready: Mamikon from @pinkarmenia and Arman from radio Van. Enjoy it #armLGBT

like it very much RT @pinkarmenia: the result of @mmkarmenia and Arman team work #armLGBT

Arman and Mamikon team working #armLGBT

another post created by Janna from radio Van and Zara from WFCE #armLGBT

Day 3: 14 November 2010

Day 3. Presention of team works. Actually 2 teams were faster and their articles were ready yesterday #armLGBT

Day 3: Media seminar on #LGBT issues in #Armenia: presentation of team-work articles #armLGBT

Arman from Radio Van is presenting his article and interpreting the comments #armLGBT

Mamik and Arman had a very constructive approach writing this article and reflected on the real problems in society on #tolerance #armLGBT

Presentation of results of joint work at #armLGBT first presentation by RadioVan

172 people already read Arman's and Mamikon's post since yesterday night which shows the interest in this topic #armLGBT

"aper karogha sagh tertere gren vor menq estegh eyinq kaluboyneri het" ,- some men hanging around the hotel's swimming pool #armLGBT

@RadioVAN is asking here Why are we more tolerant towards unfairness, but not to sexual minorities #armLGBT

comment on @mmkarmenia & @RadioVAN post its easier to be against #armLGBT community than corrupt government officials

2nd article JEnya and Zara on coming out - artagalusd #armLGBT

Zhenka / Zara's article is long, boring, too many figures, no specific issue is raised, but its a great start #armLGBT

I guess #armLGBT community do not have that much problems with journalists but each of them has problems in their groups

Gohar Hakobian of Aravot Daily is presenting results of 'vox pop' on the streets of Tsakhadzor. Results are funny! #armLGBT

In response to question what they think of #armLGBT, someone started complaining from lack of jobs and social problems #lol

Gohar Hakobian says Tsakhadzor ppl tolerant, because its a tourist place and they are used to seeing diverse groups #armLGBT

Gohar from Aravot and Karen from WFCE went out on the streets of Tsaxkatsor and did an opinion poll on #LGBT issues #armLGBT

can't really comment on Gohar Hakobian's article draft for Aravot Daily before it's published, interesting stuff though #armLGBT

Susan Simonian is presenting a feature article on gender change at #armLGBT workshop in tsakhadzor

Susan Simonian's feature paints a touching picture of #armLGBT minority's struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Depressing!

Susan Simonian's feature for #armLGBT woskshop has a success story. Yey! Love it!

Gayane from A1+ presented amazing video report about Ocean and her artwork #armLGBT

Lusine's real story presenting Vahe from Hetq. Another reality, another emotions and this is all about our lovely Lusine #armLGBT

Vahe's story prepared for #armLGBT workshop is rather controversial. Has lot's of good sides, but somehting bother's me about it

from mainstream journalism perspective, knowing potential negative feedback, I wouldn't publish Vahe's story as it is #armLGBT

Finalizing the seminar. Thanks to British Council for great initiative #armLGBT

Thanks @Lara_Aha @mmkarmenia @ditord for excellent tweet-reporting from #armLGBT media seminar. Will sum up your tweets into a blog post.

seminar is officially over, it was an amazing experience and exceeded my expectations! i will be back with lots of energy and hope #armLGBT

@Lara_Aha WOW. Well done, guys. I like what I am reading :) #armLGBT

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Azerbaijan joins totalitarian ‘club’ of homophobic countries by voting to remove sexual orientation from the UN resolution condemning executions based on discriminatory grounds

Azerbaijan became the only country in the South Caucasus to support such move, proposed by African Group at the UN and supported mainly by a bunch of totalitarian countries in Africa, Middle East and Asia. Disappointingly, Russia joined that ‘club’ too.

I am glad to see that Armenia and Georgia joined instead the civilised world in opposing such removal.

Below is a statement by International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

17 November 2010

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ARC International are deeply disappointed with yesterday’s vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The resolution urges States to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. For the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation in the list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based.

The removed reference was originally contained in a non-exhaustive list in the resolution highlighting the many groups of people that are particularly targeted by killings - including persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons acting as human rights defenders (such as lawyers, journalists or demonstrators) as well as street children and members of indigenous communities. Mentioning sexual orientation as a basis on which people are targeted for killing highlights a situation in which particular vigilance is required in order for all people to be afforded equal protection.

The amendment removing the reference to sexual orientation was sponsored by Benin on behalf of the African Group in the UN General Assembly and was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.

“This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”

This decision in the General Assembly flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and renders these killings invisible or unimportant. The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has highlighted documented cases of extrajudicial killings on the grounds of sexual orientation including individuals facing the death penalty for consensual same-sex conduct; individuals tortured to death by State actors because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; paramilitary groups killing individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation as part of “social cleansing” campaigns; individuals murdered by police officers with impunity because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; and States failing to investigate hate crimes and killings of persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

"It is a matter of great shame that the responsible Committee of the United Nations General Assembly failed in its responsibility to explicitly condemn well-documented killings based on sexual orientation," said John Fisher, Co-Director of ARC international. "The credibility of the United Nations requires protection of all persons from violations of their fundamental human rights, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We thank those States which supported the inclusion of sexual orientation in the text, and will redouble our collective efforts to ensure that Member States of the United Nations maintain the standards they have sworn to uphold."

The amendment runs counter to other positive developments in UN and regional human rights systems where there is increased recognition of the need for protection from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. At a September 2010 panel held in conjunction with a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unequivocally recognized “the particular vulnerability of individuals who face criminal sanctions, including imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty, on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Sixty-eight countries have also signed a joint statement in the UN General Assembly on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity which calls for an end to “human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity … in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground [and] extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.”

IGLHRC and ARC International urge all States, regardless of their vote on this amendment, to sign the UNGA joint statement affirming support of the human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and to continue in efforts to decriminalize same-sex conduct and to end other discrimination, including violence, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The votes to amend the resolution were as follows:

In favor of the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (79):

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Opposed to the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (70):

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia (FS), Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela

Abstain (17):

Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Mongolia, Papau New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu

Absent (26):

Albania, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Marshall Island, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Photostory by Svetlana Antonyan ('Ocean') on A1+: artist, gay, society...

Parajanov: imprisonment and prison art, British Film Institute, London

Pictures from an intimate exhibit at the British Film Institute, part of Parajanovian Festival in London, March 2010 (from my archives). They detail his imprisonment and prison art.

Shprot and Vayach: Quotes of the Day

[...] She followed her song, in which she sings about listening to your heart and not letting fear stop you from your dreams, with speaking openly about issues considered taboo to a in interviews.

“I would talk about sex and homosexuality, about issues that weren’t being openly discussed in Armenia,” she says. “I have a lot of gay friends and I understand them. Everyone decides for themselves who to live with and who to sleep with, what business is it of ours to go and interfere with their lives?” [...]

*Shprot: “Armenia Is Too Small For Me”. Extract of the interview by Liana Aghajanian for Ararat magazine

[...] Ես ընկալում, ընդունում ու առաջին հերթին հանդուրժում եմ իմ բարեկամներին, չնայած հանդուրժելը «տոլերանտ» բառի համար ամենահարմար համարժեքը չի հայերենում, ցավոք, այն մի քանի բառի իմաստային համադրություն է, բայց եթե էդպես է լեզուն ասում, ուրեմն ասենք, բայց հասկանանք այլ բան՝ ավելի բարուն ու սիրուն մոտիկ: Որովհետև, եթե կա հասարակության մեջ համամարդկային սիրո տոկոս, երբ կարևոր չի չաղ է, թե նիհար, շեկ է, թե սևահեր, տղամարդ է, թե կին, մեզ համար ավանդական հետերոսեքսուալ է, թե գեյ, այլ կարևոր է՝ ինչպիսի՞ մարդու տեսակ է նա, և որքանո՞վ է նա համապատասխանում քո մարդկային արժեքային համակարգին նրա հետ բարեկամություն անելու համար, կամ մինիմում՝ հանդուրժելու, եթե կարող ես հասկանալ, որ այլ է՝ այլախոհ է, այլազգի է, այլակրոն է, այլառասսա, այլասեռական է նրա կողմնորոշվածությունը քոնից: Էդ դեպքում միայն մենք կարող ենք ասել, որ քաղաքակիրթ ժողովուրդ ենք, որ արժանի ենք տեղ գրավել առաջադեմ երկրների շարքում, ու զգալ նրանց հետ մեզ հավասար, եթե ոչ տնտեսապես, ապա առայժմ գոնե գաղափարապես: Իսկ ամեն ինչ սկսվում է գաղափարական խոհանոցում՝ ուղեղում:

*Extract from the article by Lusine Vayachyan for the Armenian Version: Տրասսի տրանսները, կավատներն ու ռեկետը (AM)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Riot, nudity... a very Armenian day in London gallery by artist Karen Grigoryan

It was a very strange, weird day in London. For the first time in decades, students riot erupted, clashes with police, surreal scenes you are more likely to see in Paris or Athens, but not in a more restrained London.

What this had to do with the exhibition of Armenian artist Karen Grigoryan in London, you may wonder? Well, there were some direct and indirect connections.

The opening of the exhibition coincided with the students riot, and the artist JUST managed to make it to his own exhibition, getting stuck in a travel chaos. Armenian fate :)

The exhibition - that contained some ‘risky’ images - was accompanied by Karen’s music, pomegranate wine and abundance of Armenian dry fruits and sweets.

It was an intimate affair, with a touch of class.

All exhibits were up for sale with the proceeds to go to the charity supported by the artist to buy Christmas presents for children in Gavar orphanage (Armenia).

P.S. Thanks to Karen for his present: CD album Emotions, a compilation of selected songs by songwriter-artist. I am listening to it while writing this post. social network for gay Armenian men to close down

It was launched in/around February 2009 to replace AGLA France popular online “meeting place” for LGBT Armenians after the French Armenian LGBT group ceased to exist.

It was presented as a “private social network for gay Armenian men and their friends. Though it's private, everyone can sign up and ask for membership.”

At the time of writing, has 1166 members, 14 groups, 4 featured interviews, 38 blog posts by members, 76 forum discussions, 1034 pictures and 139 videos uploaded.

Below is a message from the admin of

While I would not say it turned into a "dead network", I would agree that it failed to become a popular "meeting place", as gay Armenian men use other means to get/be in touch.
*** : no farewell speech

A message to all members of


We're considering to close network on Ning. The reasons are many:

- lack of time (first of all)

- lack of budget

and the most and not the least is lack of enthusiasm from members.

Keeping a dead network is useless. However the fan page at Facebook will replace this network since the majority of you have an account there and use other social networks more frequently than this one.



to all of you and we don't say farewell just good-bye! See you later on Facebook ;)

Sunday, 7 November 2010

My Yerevan. The way I see and like it. Or... to Yerevan with love

Must-must read. Absofu**inglutely awesome post by Adrineh. I can 100% associate myself to what she wrote about MY Yerevan too.

Essential reading.

Selected extracts below. Full post: Ode to Yerevan Nights

I had forgotten. I had forgotten how this city changes at night. How the expression “as different as night and day” takes on new meaning in the Armenian capital. And I have missed it. Oh, how I have missed you, dear Yerevan night.

Walking the streets of this city at night, you see the queers, the foreigners, the misfits. If you never went out at night, you would think that Yerevan is “proper” Armenian girls, young boys laughing in groups, schoolchildren, and older women buying produce, while [...] men in groups in dark-colored clothing talking politics in the park. [...]

But it is a night — even better, late at night —, when the “proper” Armenian girls have gone home (after all, they’re not allowed to stay out past midnight), when the young men with their flashy cars have possibly retired for the evening, and when families are fast asleep, that Yerevan wakes up and shows you the possibilities of what this city can be.

I hear more languages at night than I do during the day. I see people I didn’t know live here, doing things I didn’t know people in Yerevan do. I see all manners of people being accepted because the night is different: it allows for certain freedoms (most likely aided by certain amounts of alcohol) that would simply be frowned upon during the day.

Of course, it’s not all rose-coloured glasses: the stereotypes and the conservative opinions are still there, but I suppose they’re not felt as much, or perhaps they simply lose their potency at night. [...]

This might sound odd, but Yerevan at night reminded me I’m queer. And that I love my queer brothers and sisters. In the past couple of nights, I met many more new misfits and came to the following revelation:

The ratio of queers to straights in Yerevan is probably higher than in Toronto, and maybe even London and New York.

You might find this hard to believe, but trust me: just come to Yerevan. And go out at night. Yerevan is a small city compared to many other capital cities around the world, but it has an infinite amount of possibilities. [...]

Yerevan at night reminded me why I love this city and its people, and brought to mind this quote:

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

Friday, 5 November 2010

Garik Martirosyan in drag

This unconventional image of popular Russia-based Armenian showman (Comedy Club) Garik Martirosyan was unveiled at the exhibition in Moscow by Russian artist Ekaterina Rozhdestvenskaya.

*picture - via MIGnews

Monday, 1 November 2010

Gay Story - Armenia online project launched today

Great initiative. There is this relatively new online project Gay Story (in English). Today it launched its standalone Armenian version - Gay Story - Armenia.

I can only commend people behind this online project. Well done, guys !!

As they say: Share your stories. It helps.

The website and stories are in Armenian, and will be particularly relevant to LGBT people in Armenia and Diaspora, or anyone who knows Armenian. They are not fiction. They are real. Real life stories.

I encourage you to participate in this initiative and submit your stories.

These are the main topics that you may submit your stories about:

Am I Gay?
Coming Out
First time sex
Gay Love

First story - a very honest and well written - have already been posted by Mary. It touched me, and I felt very emotional.... ԴՈՒ ՄԵՆԱԿ ՉԵՍ… (‘You are not alone’)

Բարի Գալուստ Gay Story – Հայաստան


Facebook page

ArmeniaNow about LGBT discrimination in Armenia, gay sex workers and pleshka

I have to say, gay-themed articles in Armenian online media became somehow repetitive and predictable. Even headings and accompanying pictures look the same.

The main interesting part from the ArmeniaNow report, which I have been hearing from other sources too, is the following (re gay sex workers):
Homosexuals, however, say that there is little progress. Under the pressure of NGOs, the Children’s Park has been lightened recently; some police officers are patrolling there every day, preventing attacks of different groups against homosexuals.

“Now when such group attacks are registered, the police interfere, defending us. Of course they [attackers] do not eventually face a punishment, but, at least, they understand that we are also people and we also have rights,” Petros says.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Russian pop star Lolita thanks gays for her "inner freedom" and proud of being called a "gay icon"

"I am proud that I am a gay icon. I have many gay friends, they taught me freedom, an inner freedom. This is something that in our country and other countries, including America, had never been encouraged. [...]", says Lolita answering the question of Moscow-based famous journalist of Armenian origin Arthur Gasparyan in a TV programme aired on Russian NTV.

Respects, Lolita. Love you. You certainly are a gay icon in post-Soviet states. Related posts


"Я горжусь тем, что я гей-икона. К своему счастью, я имею большое количество друзей-геев, они меня научили свободе, внутренней свободе. Это то, что в нашей стране и других странах никогда не поощрялось, включая Америку. Я благодарная геям - и женщинам и мужчинам - за поддержку меня много лет. Потому что если бы не они, я бы, наверное, стояла в маленьком черном платье, худая до безумия, не позволившая себе располнеть, сделавшая сто одну пластическую операцию...", - такой спич произнесла популярная исполнительница Лолита Милявская, отвечая на вопрос журналиста Артура Гаспаряна в эфире телеканала "НТВ".

Cher about her age, boyfriends and child’s gender reassignment surgery

Extracts from her interview with the latest issue of OK magazine.

Quote 1: “Age is a major pain in the ass”.

Quote 2: “I love having boyfriends”.

Quote 3: “Everyone who went before me is an influence for me and everyone who comes after me is influenced by me”.

About her daughter Chastity’s gender reassignment surgery:
OK: As a mother it must be difficult that your daughter is now your son...
Cher: It’s hard - I screw up on the pronouns so often but she’s very soft about it and cuts me some slack. It took much more courage for her to do it because I am her mom, she didn’t have one moment of peace.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

How to prevent your child from catching Gay? Here is century old Armenian recipe :)

"Have Gay?"
Abo & Karo's mom tries to keep them warm so they don't catch gay.
Created by artist/animator Hayk Manukyan.

Too funny :)))

*thanks to Lena for the link

Monday, 25 October 2010

'Stop violence’ with... violence. P.S. re recent abuse and violence scandals in Armenia

Starting with the case of that Nubarashen school pedophile teacher, then army and school abuse videos, and then the highly publicised recent domestic violence case, what I noticed - not infrequently - that some people, even among ‘stop violence’ campaigners, in the heat of emotional debate call for lynching of those suspected in abuse or violence. [...]

Let’s take a very recent example of domestic violence in Armenia, that rightly resulted in an outrage, and petition was launched (I supported and signed it) calling for law against domestic violence.

In total, there were 3196 signatures with/without comments, now passed to the prime minister.

A friend of mine disturbed by certain comments posted on the petition 'Armenia Must Pass Domestic Violence Legislation', compiled a list of all of those signatories (28 in total) who "wished bodily violence and death upon the husband and/or mother-in-law of Zaruhi Petrosyan".  He rightly pointed out that “we need to prevent domestic violence, not practice lynch mob rule”. 

It is also disturbing that a person (e.g. petition signatory 3179, screenshot below) would use a slanderous and bigoted term about a sexual minority group to express his anger over a domestic violence issue. This ‘injustice by injustice’ approach totally devalues his own signature.

Read full post on Unzipped

Monday, 18 October 2010

Armenian gay rights group in LA - GALAS, raised thousands for AIDS Walk Los Angeles

Well done to GALAS members for their successful efforts in raising funds and awareness as part of the AIDS Walk Los Angeles. Many thanks to Haig Boyadjian for pictures. Such a lovely and cute team GALAS!
AIDS Walk Los Angeles is a 10-kilometer (6.2 mile) fundraising walkathon benefiting HIV/AIDS service organisations throughout Los Angeles County. This is an inspirational day filled with energy, excitement, hope, and even celebrities!
Earlier, LA-based independent Armenian publication - IANYAN magazine, posted an extensive reflection - Gay Armenians Raise Thousands for AIDS.

Below are selected extracts from IANYAN:

The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles (GALAS) has raised over $5,000  for AIDS Walk Los Angeles and will be walking with thousands of Angelenos in support of the 32 million people worldwide who are living with the disease this Sunday, Oct. 17.

With AIDS still considered taboo in Armenian circles, GALAS seeks to raise awareness and give back to the community. Their support and donation efforts benefit AIDS project Los Angeles, an AIDS service organization dedicated to improving lives of people affected by HIV, reducing HIV infection and advocating for fair and effective HIV-related public policy.

GALAS member Haig Boyadjian has raised $1,000 alone and says he knows a few people whom he loves dearly that are HIV positive. “I feel helpless since there is no cure, this is my way of helping find a cure and raising awareness,” he said. “The dollar amount raised is impressive for a fairly small organization like GALAS.

Chris Garsevanian, another GALAS member  has raised $500, donations that came from a variety of sources including two gay Armenians, one straight Jewish man, a a straight Israeli woman from Manhattan and a straight Iranian woman from the Los Angeles area.

Garsevanian is hopeful for a cure. “I can imagine a world where kids only deal with AIDS in history books,” he said. “I have faith that we will find a cure to AIDS within my lifetime.”

For some, participating in the walk and raising money is all about exposure.
“Our participation in the walk exposes GALAS to not only the general public, but also to LGBT Armenians who thought they were the only ones out there,” GALAS board member H.S., who wanted to be identified by initials only and has raised $575 so far. [...]

GALAS’ participation, as well as the Armenian Gay and Lesbian of New York’s participation over the years in New York’s Gay Pride Parade are relatively recent spotlights on the Armenian LGBT community, which has faced discrimination and ostracization in the Diaspora as well as in Armenia.

GALAS, who offers psychotherapy services to members and non-members alike,  has received threatening and homophobic emails and voicemails in the past.

“I think the notion of gay Armenians existing is taboo, let alone the idea that there might be Armenians who have AIDS,” Boyadjian said. “It’s not really talked about all too much.”

Garsevanian agrees, citing the notion that AIDS in the community as well as LGBT Armenians were considered “folklore” until recently. [...]

“I am hoping that our general membership will be impressed with the amount raised and the time and energy that has been devoted to this cause by all the walkers and sponsors and will in turn be more active next year,” Boyadjian said. “As long as my walking inspires at least one other member to walk next year, then I would be content.”

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Can gay couples adopt children in Armenia?

To put it briefly, legally - yes, in practice - no.

Very interesting discussion during the roundtable on trafficking and adoption in Armenia. In response to the question on possibilities for gay couples to adopt children in Armenia, adoption official Yelena Hayrapetyan clarified that legally there are no obstacles for gay couples to adopt children, as Armenia does not want to contradict European norms on human rights. However, there is an “internal agreement” that gay couples will not be allowed to adopt so that “to preserve national values”
Իմ հարցին, թե ի՞նչ չափանիշներով են առաջնորդվում որդեգրողին նախապատվություն տալու հարցում, տիկին Հայրապետյանն ասաց, որ հաշվի է առնվում ամեն ինչ՝ սկսած նյութական-սոցիալական վիճակից, մինչև փսիխո-հոգեբանականը: Իսկ սեռական փոքրամասնություն կազմող մեր հայրենակիցներն ընդհանրապես կարող են չդիմել որդեգրելու համար. «Չնայած մեր օրենսդրությամբ դա չի մերժվում, քանի որ եվրաինտեգրման գործընթացը պահանջում է մարդու իրավունքները ՀՀ-ում համապատասխանեցնել միջազգային նորմերին, սակայն կա ներքին պայմանավորվածություն, ըստ որի՝ նույնասեռական քաղաքացու որդեգրման խնդրանքը մերժում են, ելնելով ազգային արժեքների պահպանումից»:
Փաստորեն, եվրոպաների առջև քաղաքակիրթ ենք խաղում, իսկ մարդիկ, ովքեր կցանկանային ծնողներ լինել, մերժվում են միայն սեռական կողմնորոշման պատճառով:

Ազգային անվտանգության մակարդակի հասցված, պետական մակարդակով «ներքին պայմանվորվածությամբ» անհադուրժողականությունը պատիվ չի բերում երկրին։
This is not surprising and a clear reflection of the widespread tactics employed by officials in Armenia: in papers, Armenia follows all human rights and anti-discrimination directives. But the reality is far from what papers may suggest.

However, I am glad that this question was raised and discussed, perhaps for the first time in Armenia on such a level.

There is one number presented during the roundtable that surprised me a lot. As per official’s data, there are only 70 orphans in Armenia who are eligible for the adoption. So few?
Այսօր մենք ունենք շուրջ 200 ՀՀ քաղաքացի, ովքեր ուզում են երեխա որդեգրել: Իսկ որդեգրման՝ առանց ծնողական խնամքի մնացած երեխաները 70-ն են, որոնցից միայն 15-ն են առողջ, նրանց մեծ մասը 10 տարեկանից մեծ են, որը ևս դժվարացնում է նրանց տեղավորման ամենանախապատվելի ձևը՝ որդեգրումը հայրենիքում: Հիվանդ երեխաներին հաճույքով որդեգրում են արտերկրացիները (որոնց մեծ մասը նույնպես ազգությամբ հայ են), եթե նրանց երկրներում կա այդ երեխաներին բուժելու հնարավորություն:

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Austrian ballerina of Russian-Armenian origin sacked for nude photo shoot

Photos appeared in the September issue of the Austrian men's fashion and lifestyle magazine WIENER. Reports say that Karina Sarkissova was previously warned over similar photos in Penthouse magazine.
VIENNA — The management of the Vienna State Opera and its ballet company says it has fired a ballerina for posing in the nude after she was warned not to do it again. The management of the prestigious institutions says solo dancer Karina Sarkissova was axed Aug. 23 after a series of provocative photos of her appeared in the September issue of the Austrian men's fashion and lifestyle magazine "Wiener." A statement Friday said she had already been reprimanded in May for nude shots that were taken in the opera house without permission and published in the June edition of "Penthouse."
News were reported by,, Telegraph, AFP and other agencies too.

Karina Sarkissova considers this case discriminatory. WIENER magazine that published her photo shoot, posted a nude picture of Vienna ballet director Manuel Legris, that appeared on a photo book cover, and was not resulted in disciplinary actions.

You may access her website at

I have to say, she looks stunning.

*pictures - by Moritz Schell für den WIENER / September 2010 (1, 2)

UPDATE 17 October 2010:

“Late last week the state opera caved in to public pressure and agreed to reinstate Sarkissova in an apparent effort to avoid further embarrassment.”

For more details (based on The Sunday Times), as well as statements by Sarkissova and opera director, see comments section below.

The Sunday Times: Karina Sarkissova said her nude modelling was inspired by photos of Manuel Legris, above.