Thursday, 12 March 2009

Brutality of Homophobia in Armenia (presentation by Lala Aslikyan)

Lala Aslikyan, Huys NGO (Armenia), made this presentation on 16 January 2009, at the meeting with New York based Armenian gay rights group- AGLA NY. It's a damning account on brutal face of homophobia in Armenian society, including in the Armenian army. (more about the latter - in my further posts)

Documented case of rape in the Armenian army

(About Lala Aslikyan) Lala Aslikyan is a psychologist and a political scientist, human rights advocate. She is a member of “Huys” (”Hope”) NGO in Armenia, dealing with human rights protection and advocacy. Since 2004 she has initiated and organized several public forums, demonstrations, public actions aimed at the protection of human rights, free media and implementation of basic democratic principles in Armenia. Particularly, she was involved in the successful advocacy campaign related to a large number of murders in the Armenian army. She was actively engaged in the protests on March 1 and in following events, which put her in dangerous position while dealing with police and army forces used against people and journalists in Yerevan.

She works as Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in the community project, financed by USAID, Armenia.

Prior to her visit to NY Lala had several meetings in Armenia to prepare a brief presentation on LGBT rights violations in Armenia for the LGBT community in NY. During her 10 minute talk she will give a picture of the LGBT situation in Armenia, highlighting specific problems and the character of violence and harassment based on homophobia in Armenia.

*videos - via AGLA NY


artmika said...

Couple of important points. Lala Aslikyan was presenting only negative sides of life for gay people in Armenia, based on examples of widespread homophobia in our society from various fields and at various levels.

There are positive developments too, of course: LGBT related NGOs, emergence of gay friendly venues, increased visibility of gay people (well, so far in central Yerevan only, but still), UN gay rights statement signed by the government...

But this is the ugly face of homophobia and hate, however uncomfortable and horrifying it may sound. This needs to be tackled in Armenia on all levels. Armenian government has to assure that signing the UN gay rights statement was not a mere formality but a real intention and plan for actions to combat discrimination against LGBT people.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, artmika, for this entry, as well as your comment. I am personally of the opinion that positive thoughts and actions, as well as hope, and most importantly, love, are the way to move forward. There is no more room for hate in this world. In my tools for justice, I would rather pick up a pen than a sword.

In that vein, I wanted to let your readers know that these two clips have generated a few comments on YouTube — some quite ugly and homophobic. There is an email circulating asking supporters to post encouraging comments on YouTube. Please forward this request so we can see more positive comments about Armenian LGBT people (because you know, we're not that bad! :)))))

artmika said...

To be honest, I am of opinion that hate comments and personal attacks should be moderated. It’s internet, there are always people out there whose only aim is to spread hate. We have to promote civilised debate, where all opinions are welcome, however, there is zero tolerance policy for hateful ones. Therefore, I personally do not feel comfortable commenting at a place where such comments are allowed.

Please, do not get me wrong. I know, there is argument for ‘no moderation’ policy too. I am not judging those against or in favour of moderation, just stating my position. And of course, I encourage anyone to leave comments there if they wish so.

I certainly agree with you (and I try doing that on my blog as much as I can) that along with highlighting problems and negativity, we have to publicise positive aspects and developments too, because they exist! There are many positive and success stories about LGBT Armenians (in Armenia and Diaspora), and I’d love to hear more on that.

hr_g said...

I respect your opinion Artmika but, IMHO internet comments on a topic like this should not be moderated. The Armenian community around the world has no idea about the hatred that some Armenians harbor towards LGBT Armenians, sweeping it under the rug doesn't help the situation.

Also, as LGBT Armenians we do not have anything to be shamed of, particulary the truth. And in the end I think people's goodness and tolerance will win out if they are educated about the issues and see how it impacts people's lives.

PRF said...

I had lesbian and gay friends in Yerevan for many years and nobody was beaten or otherwise threatened... I am not sure if Lala Aslikyan has any proves for a single argument that she made in here presentation. It is true that the Armenian society does not accept gay and lesbian union, but that is true for most countries as well. But there is no problem of homophobia in Armenia!

artmika said...

PRF, I am happy for your friends. I wish I could generalise your statement. The day when I would be able to do so, would be one of the happiest days in my life. Sadly, along with improvements in recent years, there is still big problem of homophobia in Armenia, and we should all work for it to become a 'no problem'.