Recent events surrounding the discussions in Armenian parliament of proposed bills that may effectively terminate the broadcast of popular Radio Liberty through the National Radio of Armenia, should concern everyone who value human rights and freedom of press, and particularly LGBT community in Armenia and Diaspora. Unless we have free and independent media, future progress of democracy, and thus gay rights, in Armenia are impossible. Luckily, for now Radio Liberty is safe, but it does not garantee future attempts to atack this or other media in Armenia. For details, see here, here and here.
There was interesting twist surrounding these events which indirectly connect Radio Liberty, Hetq.am and LGBT community in Armenia.
On 2 July 2007 Hetq (Hetq Online is run by the Investigative Journalists NGO in Armenia) published an article Radio Liberty Will Turn Into a Newspaper. While focusing on media freedom and particularly Radio Liberty and reactions surrounding the parliamentary discussions, Tigran Paskevichyan touches also the issue of LGBT rights in Armenia, in the context of free press:
"After these objectionable laws are passed we can perhaps join a convention on the protection of LGBT rights and commit ourselves not to interfere with the execution of, say, a gay parade. And why not? That is quite close to the values preached by the government-controlled media."
In order to fully understand the meaning of this passage, you probably need to read the article in full here. UkGayNews rightly pointed out that "Tigran Paskevichyan writes about the question mark hanging over the future of the Armenian service of Radio Liberty. While not specifically a "gay issue", the LGBT community in Armenia would be affected by the station's closure, proposed by the government of Armenia."
Quite the different reaction came from one of notorious Armenian bloggers, who is blogging from outside the Armenia and is known for his pro-establishment and very osseous, out of touch views on any subject. He would not have deserved my attention otherwise, but I want to bring it on here since this is very practical example to clearly show how 'sensitive' some of our 'compatriots' may be when someone even slightly touches the issues of gay rights. This 'compatriot' could not help himself but to express his "disgust" towards gay people. He went on further and suggested to "boycott Hetq.am" because "they are spreading homosexual propaganda". I do not think that President Kocharyan or PM Sargsyan need his support, quite the contrary, they could not get more anti-propaganda than the one which is supposedly conducted by this guy in their favour. And yes, if you have not guessed, he is quite happy to see Radio Liberty out of national coverage and probably felt devastated that Armenian parliament failed to pass the bill.
This particular example also shows the need for gay community to join forces with all progressive representatives of Armenian civic society (be that in Armenia or Diaspora) to protest any attack on freedom of speech in Armenia and support independent media.
Ամստերդամ Քաղաքի Թանգարանից
4 weeks ago