[inspired by and partly based on Spartacus International Gay Guide]
*last reviewed: 1 September 2008
Spartacus guide is the most famous and popular gay guide worldwide. The fact that Armenia entered the guide is the recognition of emerging gay scene. It may attract more gay tourists to Armenia.
Important notes re Armenia Gay Guide:
*This guide is partly based on Spartacus, with the additional info from other sources if available and appropriate.
*This guide will be updated regularly as/when new info is available. For convenience, the link to this guide is provided on the main page of my blog (see upper right corner).
*If you think that the info or listings in this guide are incorrect, please let me know your additions based on reliable sources. If you are aware of other gay or gay-friendly venues and attractions in Armenia or any other info which you think may be of interest or relevance to gay people who live in or visit Armenia, please let me know so that I will update this guide.
In December 2002, Armenia adopted a new Criminal Code and abolished the anti-gay article 116 that dated back to 1936. Since then, homosexuality [strictly said, gay male sex] is no longer punishable. At the same time, a "gay scene" started to emerge in the capital Yerevan.
To this date, there is no gay rights movement in Armenia [well, not organised or obvious, more subtle gay rights movement exists in form of emerging gay institutions/venues, with the support of Diaspora organisations] and society remains extremely homophobic. The first gay bar Meline's opened on 12 November 2004. The first LGBT NGO called We For Civil Equality (WFCE), also known as 'Menq', was formally registered by the Ministry of Justice in July 2006. Second LGBT related NGO - PINK Armenia (Public Information and Need of Knowledge), was registered in December 2007. In May 2008, Armenian gay women group, the Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective, was established. Despite this little progress, Armenian society remains homophobic and therefore we strictly advise not to hold hands or kiss in public [although you will see men (and women) holding each other's hands in public or kissing each other when they meet or part, this is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation but rather established tradition]. Even if some venues listed in this guide are frequented by gays and lesbians, that doesn't mean they can be compared to western gay bars and discos.
Nevertheless, Armenia has much to offer: as one of the cradles of Christian civilisation, it has over 40 000 churches and the capital alone has over 20 museums. The month of July is rich in events. In the beginning of the month, Yerevan hosts Golden Apricot Film Festival followed by more and more popular Yerevan Jazz Festival. Outside the capital, there is a sometimes stunningly beautiful countryside. Apart from the widespread homophobia, Armenians are said to be tempered, but friendly and welcoming people.
Famous Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Armenians, as compiled by Armeniapedia (with additions), include:
- Armenian pre-Christian King Pap
- Byzantine Emperor Basil I the Macedonian
- Gay Catholicos Grigoris I or Grigor Aghtamartsi
- poet Vahan Tekeyan
- poet Yeghishe Charents (see also here)
- poet Sarmad the Naked Mystic
- filmmaker Sergei Parajanov
- Armenian American literary pioneer George Stambolian (see also here), a key figure in the early gay literary movement that came out of New York during the 1960s and 70s.
- musician, writer and activist Chastity Bono, daughter of pop duo Sonny Bono and Cher
[at this stage, only listings for Armenian capital - Yerevan, are available]
For more general and useful info about Armenia, Yerevan, including travel, visitor info, entertainment, activities, sites of interest and attractions, visit Armenia Info and Armeniapedia.
(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; dancing/discotheque; more popular at the weekend; younger crowd of 18-29 years old)
Address: Nalbandyan Street 48
Phone: (+37410) 580 416
It's the only disco-bar that stays late, where other places are closed. Most of the clients are foreign students who study in Yerevan.
Meline's (CLOSED DOWN!)
(gay and lesbian mixed crowd; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages)
Hours: 9pm-5am (closed on Monday)
Address: Abovyan Street 2 [according to the bar non-official website - Aram Street 30, Aram and Abovyan streets' crossroad]
Phone: (+374 10) 564 414; (+374 10) 544 644; mobile (+374 91) 112 893
Website (non-official): http://melinesbar.narod.ru/
Opened in November 2004. This is the only openly gay bar in town with gay staff and clientele. It is situated in the basement of French restaurant called simply "Le Restaurant Français".
Best time to go - around or after midnight.
Meline's bar was closed down in June 2007 for unknown reasons, but re-opened in August 2007.
Meline's was closed down due to financial reasons, as well as ongoing renovation projects in central Yerevan. The very last party was held there on 31 July 2008.
(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; full breakfast; extensive menu available; mixed ages)
Address: Abovyan Street 20
Phone: (+37410) 521 239
Great food and nice social place, a very American "Barnes & Noble Cafe"-type atmosphere. New and second hand books, souvenirs, and handcraft works are available here. Offers original coffee, a light European cuisine, daily breakfast and very good pasta.
Not necessarily food-wise, but atmosphere-wise, this is one of my favourite places in Yerevan.
Note: In Armenia when people say "nightclub", they most commonly refer to “striptease club”. To avoid possible confusions, if you intend to go to “dance clubs”, I would advise using the word “discotheque”.
There are number of discotheques/danceclubs frequented by LGBT Armenians; sometimes they organise 'invitation only' club nights by hiring specific venues. However, preferences and venues change frequently and it is therefore advisable to find out about relevant club nights and discoteques in place. If more 'stable' information becomes availabe in future, I will update this section of the Guide accordingly.
There are regular/occasional popular DJ nights organised in Square One (see below). Recommend it!
Monte Cristo (CLOSED DOWN!)
(gay and lesbian mixed crowd; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; extensive menu available; mixed ages; outdoor seating, terrace or garden)
Address: Nalbandyan Street 48 (above Congress Hall)
Phone: (+37410) 545 007
With French operated restaurant. Free entrance on Thursday. More gay on Friday & Saturday.
(gay-friendly venue; extensive menu available; mixed ages)
Address: Abovyan Street 1/3
Phone: (+37410) 566 169
A newly opened eatery offering American dishes in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere from 9-2h. It has very gay-friendly staff and many mostly young gay and lesbian people come here to taste the best burgers in town. Occasionaly they hold popular DJ nights here. Highly recommend it!
(not gay, but of interest to LGBT community)
Restaurant, cafe, tea room, gallery, concert hall. They regularly hold art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings.
Address: 40 Tumanyan st
Phone: (+37410) 531 361
Museums / Galleries / Cinema / Theatre
Hours: 10.30am-5pm (open seven days a week)
Address: Dzoragyugh Street 15/16 (off Proshyan Street)
Phone: (+37410) 53-84-73
Yeghishe Charents House-Museum
Hours: 10am-5pm (closed on Monday)
Address: Mashtots Avenue 17
Phone: (+37410) 53-55-94
Website: Armenia Info
Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art
(“NPAK” in Armenian acronym)
Exhibitions, art projects, cinema, experimental theatre
Address: 1/3 Pavstos Biuzand Blvd., Yerevan, Armenia
Tel: (+37410) 56.82.25, 56.83.25, 56.02.18
Fax: (+37410) 56.02.16
The massive white steps that ascend from downtown Yerevan towards Haghtanak Park (Victory Park). The Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art will be located at the top of Cascade (under construction, will open in 2010). (source: Armeniapedia)
It will host Cafesjian’s permanent art collection, comprising of works in glass by internationally known artists Stanislav Libenski and Yaroslava Brichtova, paintings by Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, and the distinctive sculptures of Fernando Botero, as well as influential traveling exhibitions. The arts centre will include open air cinema, decorative pool, sculpture park, and public spaces for arts education, seminars and discussions.
Some statues by various artists have already been brought in and placed all along the monument, including works by Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova, and Paul Cox. There are two statues by Fernando Botero a black cat at the bottom and a Roman Warrior at the top platform. (source: Armeniapedia)
Excellent place to hang out, enjoy art, listen to music etc.
Independent and arthouse cinema -
National Gallery of Armenia
This is the best place for independent and arthouse cinema in Yerevan, from Pasolini to Fassbinder and other gems of cinematorgraphy, with regular Q&A sessions, thematic screenings, restrospectives, festivals. A rare pleasure. Highly recommend it! Screenings are normally held over weekends, but check out the programme from the National Gallery to get the full listings. You may also wish to enjoy permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Gallery.
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10:30 - 18:00, closed on Mondays and Major holidays
Address: Republic Square, Yerevan
Phone: (+374 10) 580812, 561812
Note: For up-to-date listing of art related events, check out ArmeniaInfo's "Calendar of Events".
Travel and Transport
Address: Nalbandyan Street 50 (going up from Sakharov square to Tumanyan intersection, on the right)
Phone: (+37410) 560 495
Furnished apartments for short and long term rentals in the capital; hotel reservations; airport transfer; tour packages; day trips; car/minibus rent etc. The company has offices in Los Angeles and in Paris.
(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; hotel or other accommodation welcoming gay men; air conditioning; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; full breakfast; extensive menu available; mixed ages; outdoor seating, terrace or garden; swimming pool; dry sauna; video shows; work-out equipment available)
Address: Grigor Lusavorich Street 7
Phone: (37410) 541 100
52 rooms and 5 suites with sat-TV, mini-bar, phone, internet access; WC/bath with floor heating and king size beds. Non-smoking rooms available.
- Opera Place (AYOR (At your own risk. Danger of personal attack or police activity): discretion recommended, only a place for picking up people).
- Kom-aygi (also called Pleshka) - close to the Yerevan City Hall and the French Embassy - best place to pick up at night but beware of police raids.
We For Civil Equality
Mobile phone: (+37491) 641 046
The first local NGO working for promoting LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS/STD prevention.
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/pinkarmenia
Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8328868419
Blog - http://pinkarmenia.blogspot.com/
This is the second LGBT related NGO in Armenia registered in December 2007. (announcement)
The Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective, Armenian gay women group
Yesoudo: LGBT Discussion Group
Blogs by transgender Armenians
Transgenders in Armenia
Online publications/personal adds
The gay and lesbian online magazine available only in Armenian. It provides press reviews, articles and analyses on LGBT issues, HIV/AIDS prevention info. [no updates since 2006]
GayArmenia.com is a meeting place of LGBT Armenians around the world, with some useful links and personal adds in Russian, English and French.
Another personal adds website popular among Armenian and ex-Soviet LGBT people (mainly in Russian): http://love.mail.ru/. Have a look also at HyeGay.
National Centre for AIDS prevention
Address: Acharyan Street 2, Yerevan
Hot Line: (+37410) 61-08-20
Phone: (+37410) 61-07-30
Fax: (+37410) 61-05-71
AIDS Prevention in Armenia (in Armenian): http://www.agla.info/aids
Links to Armenian LGBT Organisations in Diaspora
AGLA France (CEASED TO EXIST!):
LA Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS):
AGLA NY (formerly known as 'HyeQs of New York'):
Interview with AGLA NY President Chris Atamian
AGLA NY blog
Q-Hye - San Francisco GLBT Armenians:
*Source of pictures: Spartacus (cover page); Lonely Planet (map of Armenia); armeniainfo.am; websites of venues; Henrik Nydell (Republic Square in Yerevan at night); Unzipped: Gay Armenia (Cascade)