Monday, 21 April 2008
Opposition "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" newspaper must stop using homophobic references in its attacks on Armenia PM Tigran Sargsyan
Around and immediately after his appointment, I read here and there occasional comments attacking newly appointed PM Tigran Sargsyan with homophobic references for his presumed or perceived homosexuality. I do not care whether our newly appointed PM is gay or not. What I do care is no one has the right to attack others for their sexual orientation, perceived or real. Totally unacceptable tactic, from whatever side it comes. And very, very cheap, aimed at the lowest possible instincts among ‘ordinary’ citizens taking into account widespread homophobia in our society. Ironically, homophobic references and bigotry are becoming a favoured mean for some within the both sides of Armenia’s current political stand-off to make an attention grabbing headlines. This can only be a sign of lack of proper arguments and sensationalism preferred by some, be that individual, blogger, established politician or newspaper.
I was wondering where this ‘gay storyline’ came from. Publications by the opposition “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” newspaper (CHI) made things clearer (reader of my blogs pointed me out to this). I suppose that its role played also non-macho (cliché) image of PM Tigran Sargsyan.
So what’s the buzz all about?
“In a search for blue dreams”, “Great achievements from the blue side of the horizon” – under these heading & sub-heading CHI published its main article (9 April 2008, online reference, no direct link, you may find it under ‘archive’) in relation to the appointment of the head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan as Prime Minister of Armenia. ["Blue" is a ‘coloured’ reference to gays in post-Soviet states, normally having negative connotations.]
Apparently, there was a “scandal” in Armenian parliament back in May 2006 when MP Victor Dallakyan “publicly” referred to the then head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan as “sexual minority”.
Back in May 2006, during parliamentary debates, speaking of “excessive” expenses of the Central Bank of Armenia, MP Dallakyan declared that even cleaners in the Central Bank have higher salaries than MPs. [Imagine the level of ‘debates’] In response to that, in an interview with the opposition “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily, Sargsyan “invited MPs to work as cleaners” in the Central Bank: “No, our cleaners receive less than MPs. But if they [MPs] wish, they could come to work with us”. [I clearly remember this incident but I did not remember the existence of a ‘gay storyline’ there until I read this piece by CHI] Reacting to this “invitation”, Dallakyan “publicly” demanded an apology from Tigran Sargsyan: “He should come here and say “Sorry!” to us. Yesterday he was speaking here about minorities. Of course, I am not referring to sexual minorities, we do not judge sexual minorities, that is him”. After that he stood up and added: “Son of a bitch”. [You lost my respect, Mr. Dallakyan.]
CHI continues that back then Tigran Sargsyan did not say “Sorry!”, and MPs “did not have strength to defend their reputation and swallowed it”.
When asked by CHI correspondent about “sexual minority” reference made by Dallakyan in relation to the newly appointed PM Tigran Sargsyan, MP from the ruling Republican party Rafik Petrosyan instead “mainly” wondered as to “how Dallakyan could prove it”, states CHI, clearly unsatisfied with Petrosyan’s reaction.
At least twice (April 11 and April 15, online reference) after this publication CHI again used gay references to PM Sargsyan, directly or indirectly, in an apparent negative connotation.
Unless CHI stops these cheap tactics and campaign, it risks losing any credibility and joining a growing list of potentially boycotted enterprises, with a very clear “yellow” colour sticking on it. I hope that ordinary to higher level opposition representatives who have influence on this newspaper will pass this message to the CHI. Nothing could be more damaging to the opposition movement than having bigotry associated with it.
*photo - via RFE/RL