On the 17th May 1990 the World Health Organisation removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. Now International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) exists to provoke actions to end Homophobia, to demand rights and equality.
More than 70 countries still punish women, men and children because of their sexuality.
This picture of two Iranian gay teenagers who were hung two years ago shocked the world. These Iranian teenagers – one 18, the other believed to be 16 or 17, were executed for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality. They were hung because they were gay – the most horrific reminder of state level crime fuelled by homophobia and widespread in many parts of the world.
In Armenia, gay men and women are mainly ‘hidden’. There is widespread prejudice, misinformation and homophobia in Armenian society. Total lack of education and ignorance in relation to sexuality. And it's not only within straight majority. I came across with ignorance among Armenian gay men too. There is big issue of dealing with sexual identity. Living in a society with traditionally strong male dominance, ‘macho’ culture, any diversion from what is considered to be “man” is regarded unacceptable, not only for society, but also on personal, emotional level. I am not even talking about revealing sexuality (“coming out”) to parents, friends or work colleagues. This is almost non-existent in Armenian reality, either in Armenia or Diaspora.
Under the pressure of Council of Europe, Armenia decriminalised gay sex at the end of 2002. It was an important step, we should not underestimate it. In fact, as examples from western countries show, this normally serve as an essential legal basis for further development of gay rights and equality. However, things are moving (if moving) very slowly in Armenia. But there are some good news too. I specifically want to mention the establishment in July 2006 of the first Armenian NGO Menk (WE FOR CIVIL EQUALITY) which deals with the issues of sexual education and promotion of equality towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Armenia. It remains to be seen how successful this or other initiatives will be in promoting all-inclusive equal society in Armenia. Certainly, progress cannot be achieved and considered in isolation from the development of democracy in Armenia. More democratic Armenia will mean more rights for everyone, regardless sexuality.
…Today I launch my second blog:
This blog will deal specifically with gay related issues. It will be personal and not so, ‘light’ and ‘heavy’ – topics ranging from, say, men whom I consider sexy to gay rights and equality. I hope it will be of interest not only for gay men and women. And yes, I put “gay” next to “Armenia”, “gay” next to “Armenian”, we’ve got to get used of it. There are gay Armenian around us, even if they are mainly ‘hidden’, there is gay Armenia, even if it’s mainly ‘hidden’, as yet…