Wednesday, 28 October 2015

President of the Armenian Association of Young Doctors calls for anti-gay violence

Here we are. Gevorg Grigoryan, doctor, urologist, president of the Armenian Association of Young Doctors, and… advocate of anti-gay violence.

Says Gevorg Grigoryan: ‘They [gays] should be burnt.’ There should be total mobilisation to “fight fag*ots”. ‘We should not let them procreate’. Calls for beating, physical violence against gays and ultimately killing, as per Facebook screenshots of his comments (below, in Armenian).

“I will always be the one who will fight against homosexuals” [using derogatory Armenian word to refer to gays], calling LGBT people and their allies “grant seeking animals”, while the organisation he is heading aims at getting grants from international organisations ["- Միջազգային կազմակերպությունների կողմից առաջարված գրանտային ծրագրերի մասնակցություն"].

In a screenshot above, he confirms his anti-gay comments saying he is “proud” that he is against “perverse” people and “does not regret” what he said.

The Armenian Association of Young Doctors he is heading is holding a conference (6-7 November 2015, Yerevan, Armenia) re “health related quality of life”, and the conference is sponsored by number of organisations and pharma companies, including Bayer Healthcare. [other sponsors listed are Unipharm, Prom-Test Laboratories, Recordati]

I want to believe that they are not aware of the views of the president of the organisation they are sponsoring. Well, now they know.

I expect immediate actions from sponsors, and particularly Bayer Healthcare, by distancing themselves from this group, and withdrawing sponsorship.

Ethics Code of Recordati group offers “equal employment opportunities without discriminating on the basis of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental handicaps, nationality, faith, politics or trade union membership”.

Bayer specifically stresses that they will not fund “organisations that discriminate on bases of race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation or national origin”.

Time to amend mistakes in relation to this Armenian organisation.

And in future, I call international medical, healthcare organisations, pharma companies, health/medical related groups and individuals in Armenia, Diaspora and elsewhere to boycott this and similar groups.

Not only Gevorg’s comments are in contradiction with all possible ethical and professional norms that any doctor should uphold, but they border with criminal activity as clearly contain hate speech and calls for physical violence.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Lesbian Azeri activists in Baku stage photo-session in front of mosque : “We exist!”

Photos coming from Azerbaijan capital Baku target visibility in a context of LGBT, Islam and secular society.

The photo-session is titled “Z-53”, and as Azeri LGBT activist explained to this blog, this refers to Sura (chapter) from Quran, aya (verse) 53, where it is mentioned: “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by singing), do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful”.
“Our society always says that being LGBT is a great sin. Allah cursed them all, but these sentences from Quran show different view of Islam which denies all the dogmas in secular Azerbaijani society”.
Says Gulara Azimzadeh, head of the “Peace for LGBT” organisation:
“The photo-session “Z-53” represents religious, national and legal aspects of Azerbaijani LGBT people’s lives. Those photos are a message and a protest to the unbearable levels of discrimination from the homophobic society towards LGBT people. The fear for our lives derived during the making of “Z-53” did not suppress our demand for freedom of expression. For years our existence has been ignored – today we say “We exist”! Despite all the shaming, humiliations for years, and making us believe we were doing wrong - we accept our homosexual nature, we are not ashamed of who we are! You did not give us the rights to take them away. Do not try to fit everybody under the same figure! It is time to accept us – the people “different” from you.”
Unsurprisingly, as per organisers, this action generated a “huge wave of hatred” towards them, as is always the case whenever LGBT activists in the South Caucasus lower a threshold of visibility by their actions.

Respects to these brave Azeri activists.

*pictures courtesy of "Peace for LGBT"

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Tangerine: transgender revenge story, intertwined with Armenian storyline

Tangerine was premiered this week in London as part of the London Film Festival.

Transgender revenge story, raw, realistic, filled with elements of comedy and drama, with Almodovar-like touch, and played by transgender people.

Intertwined with that was a story of a typical Armenian family in LA who moved there from Armenia capital Yerevan. Any Armenian will be able to identify at least partly with that family, whether in reference to their own family, relatives or friends.

Highly recommended. And very relevant to the National Coming Out Day.

And to note that this film was shot using an iPhone !! You would never realise that unless you read about it. Great achievement by director and the whole cast and crew.

Following Q&A, I received a poster of the film and asked director Sean Baker and one of the lead actresses Mya Taylor to sign it for me.

Gay Armenian man from Boston: “What would happen if people of Yerevan knew I was gay?”

On this “National coming out day” I would like to share the thoughts of one gay Armenian man from Boston who came to study in Yerevan and was an intern with PINK Armenia.

And using this occasions, few pics I made of the Arlington Street Church in Boston. [On May 17, 2004, the Arlington Street Church was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States - Wiki]

“Love Is Stronger”. It certainly is.

*Selected extracts below. Re-posted from PINK Armenia (for Armenian version: here).
21 years old Karl Afrikian was born and raised just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, USA to an Armenian father and an American mother. He is a student at Sewanee: The University of the South studying Economics and Russian culture. He first came to Armenia in 2014 to study at the American University of Armenia for a semester, when he was introduced to PINK. He returned to Armenia for summer 2015 to intern with PINK Armenia to help the fight for gay rights.

“[…] I came in to the office [office of PINK Armenia in Yerevan] and remember being in the safest place for LGBT people in the country, which was comforting for a recently out person in a land known for its homophobia. Being from Boston, a hugely gay city, I have experienced very little discrimination firsthand; yet, in Armenia, I was again afraid in this new land, yet my time studying there and meeting fellow queer Armenians reinforced my hope for the community.”

“Right next to my apartment, I saw graffiti on a wall “vomank gay en, tetev tarek” (some people are gay, take it easy) which helped ignite my passion early on for helping the cause. ”
[Read: Armenian version of “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!” in Yerevan to mark IDAHOT]

“I was shocked to hear of the police ignoring the rights of gay victims of assault, the horrible things Armenians would do to their LGBT brothers, and how public opinion promotes rampant hostility towards gay individuals.”

“I would spend nights sometimes walking on Northern Avenue or at Hraparak at the Dancing Fountains thinking about what would happen had these people knew I was gay. Would they beat me up? Would they kill me? How would my cousins in Armenia react to such a thing?  Being gay is not always something written on your sleeve, thus there was no way they could truly verify any of these possibilities without having me tell them. Although I did not fear being publicly outed at any point, I still had this uneasiness in my heart knowing that these people who could be so nice and friendly to me could possibly become hostile towards me all due to who I love.”

“I was really unsure why this bothered me so much – I was only in Armenia for about two months, my friends queer and straight were all very supportive, and it was not as if I was being persecuted on the streets personally. […] This time, I was aware of the graveness of the situation. Eventually, I came to several realizations about how I was feeling. In Armenia today, my gayness stands against the “traditional values” held so dearly to many of our people. The traditional gender roles in Armenia prescribe that a man must marry a woman and produce children to continue our people.

Even as I came out to my father in America this tradition has held strong, and his major concern was of course having grandchildren, even though today he has learned to accept that I am gay.

Many closeted-gay men in Armenia from what I observed married women to keep their public identity secure and to appease society […]”

Saturday, 10 October 2015

#RidewithPride - take a ride on DLR trains in London wrapped in rainbow

So great to have a ride on DLR trains in London tastefully wrapped in rainbow colours, with the indication #RidewithPride. Great example of cross-agency support for LGBT rights - TFL (Transport for London), their LGBT staff network and Barclays bank that sponsored the re-design of selected trains.