Saturday, 31 January 2009

We will keep fighting for our rights and we will expose hypocrites

The letter [Open Letter Against Intolerance] will be sent to a series of international organizations, and to the human rights Ombudsman. We MUST expose the hypocrites, ideologues of hatred and homophobia, such as Karine Danielyan who is a "respected" professor at the Yerevan State University.

We WILL expose that Danielyan who "is a highly respected academician and former minister for nature protection in the Republic of Armenia, the UNDP national expert on sustainable development, president of the national association “for sustainable human development”, and chairperson of the non-governmental sector of the national council of sustainable development in Armenia" is in fact someone who endorses selective and preferential treatment of "humans" -- gays and lesbians obviously are excluded from her definition of a human being.

The letter will be sent on February 1, 2009, to proclaim and to remind everyone in Armenia and elsewhere of our rights as equal citizens of the Republic of Armenia and our declaration that we will not stop fighting for our rights!

Shushan A., Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective (Queering Yerevan blog)

P.S. If you wish to sign the letter, please do so by 1st February.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

HIV/AIDS social ad by PINK Armenia

Candles for people living with HIV

Aggressive homophobe elected as head of Russian church

According to Russian and Belarusian gay sites, newly elected Russian Patriarch Kirill is known for his extreme homophobic views and socially conservative agenda. He called “tolerance towards gays” a “non-Russian tradition”, and compared “freedom of sex” to “freedom to kill”.

Not that it is surprising to see such people in churches, but Kirill is known for his intensive propaganda of hateful and far right religious messages using all modern IT means, state agencies, TV, and even at schools. He is a staunch advocate of studying “the basics of orthodox culture” as part of school curriculum. He has very strong influence on Russia’s state leaders. Reportedly he is a former KGB agent. Allegedly, during 90s he was involved in cigarette and vodka business as well as export of diamonds from Russia.

He advocates defining human rights on the basis of certain "moral precepts". In 2006, he also said that “the execution of any law inconsistent with Christian precepts, is not compulsory for Christians."

As if Russia did not go far enough down towards nationalism, intolerance and deterioration of human rights, now many fear that it will be promoted with even more intensity.

*photo - via gay.ru

AaRON

AaRON (Artificial Animals Riding On Neverland) - French electro pop

U Turn (Lili)


War Flag Live


Le tunnel d'or (Version Symphonique)


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Monday, 26 January 2009

"Everyone is equal": Discrimination is prohibited under Armenian Constitution

Time to re-visit Armenian Constitution. Although there is no specific mention of "sexual orientation", I believe this article (14.1) of the Constitution equally applies (or so it should be) to gay men and women.

Constitution of RA

Article 14.1 Everyone shall be equal before the law.
Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or other personal or social circumstances shall be prohibited.

ՀՀ սահմանադրությունը

Հոդված 14.1. Բոլոր մարդիկ հավասար են օրենքի առջեւ:
Խտրականությունը, կախված սեռից, ռասայից, մաշկի գույնից, էթնիկական կամ սոցիալական ծագումից, գենետիկական հատկանիշներից, լեզվից, կրոնից, աշխարհայացքից, քաղաքական կամ այլ հայացքներից, ազգային փոքրամասնությանը պատկանելությունից, գույքային վիճակից, ծնունդից, հաշմանդամությունից, տարիքից կամ անձնական կամ սոցիալական բնույթի այլ հանգամանքներից, արգելվում է:

(Open Letter)

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Open Letter Against Intolerance

This Open Letter is prepared by the Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective (Queering Yerevan blog) against homophobia, hate and intolerance spread by recent publications in Armenian media as well as statements by some representatives of civil society and politicians in response to Armenia’s endorsement of the UN gay rights statement.

(For background, please read here, here, and here)

Unzipped and Unzipped: Gay Armenia endorse this Open Letter.

To sign the letter, please visit Queering Yerevan (Armenian version; English version). Thank you!!

Open Letter (in English)

Բաց նամակ

Հայաստանի կառավարության կողմից ՄԱԿ–ի` միասեռականների իրավունքները պաշտպանող հռչակագրի ստորագրումից ի վեր (դեկտեմբեր, 2008), պաշտոնական ու ընդդիմական մամուլում բազմապատկվել են միասեռականների դեմ արտահայտվող հռետորությունները։ Շատ լրատվամիջոցներ հրատարակում են լրագրողական տեսանկյունից տգետ հոդվածներ, որոնք առավելագույնս թաղային բամբասանք են հիշեցնում։ Նման երևույթները կարելի էր աչքաթող անել, եթե շատ դեպքերում զանգվածային մամուլը չվտանգվեր դառնալու ատելության ու անհանդուրժողականության խոսափող։ Առավել ցավալին այն է, որ այս հրապարակումները նույնիսկ չեն ցուցադրում տարրական լրագրողական պրոֆեսիոնալիզմի նշույլ՝ հասարակ հետազոտական տնային աշխատանք։

Չեն հասցեագրվում տարրական հարցեր, ինչպիսիք են՝ ի՞նչ է միասեռությունը, ովքե՞ր են միասեռականները Հայաստանում, ինչպե՞ս են ապրում, տարբե՞ր են առավել լայն հասարակությունից, թե՞ ոչ (իհարկե, նման հարցադրումները միանշանակ պատասխան չունեն)։ Չնայած նույնիսկ հարցադրումների բացակայությանը՝ միասեռական տղամարդիկ միանշանակ բնութագրվում են որպես ազգային անվտանգությանը սպառնացող խնդիր, Արևմուտքի «անկումնային» բարքերի արդյունք, այլասերվածության օրինակ, պաթոլոգիա, իսկ կանայք ընդհանրապես անտեսվում են կամ քարկոծվում՝ կնոջ ընդունված ավանդական կերպարին չհամապատասխանելու համար։

Վերջին շրջանում միասեռականների նկատմամբ ատելություն սերմանող ու հնարավոր բռնության տեղիք տվող հրապարակումներից է Առավոտ թերթում լույս տեսած ՀԱՅ ԼԵՍԲՈՒՀԻՆԵՐՆ ԱԿՏԻՎԱՑԵԼ ԵՆ հոդվածը (Առավոտ, 22 հունվար http://new.aravot.am/am/articles/culture/54469/view), նույն թերթում տպված Հանրապետական կուսակցության երիտասարդ «աստղ» Էդվարդ Շարմազանովի այն հայտարարությունը, թե ինքը «կտրուկ դեմ է» միասեռականներին և բնապահպան ու «Հանուն Կայուն Մարդկային Զարգացման» ասոցիացիայի նախագահ Կարինե Դանիելյանի հայտարարությունը. «Միշտ համարվել է, որ մարդկանց մոտ 4-5 տոկոսը ունի այդպիսի շեղումներ , դա եղել է դարերով ի վեր և ընկալվել է որպես հիվանդություն, որպես շեղում» (Սեռական փոքրամասնությունների շահերը պաշտպանող քաղաքական հայտարարությունը դժգոհություններ է առաջացրել
[ 2009/01/12 16:00 ] ՀԵՏՔ, հասարակություն, Քրիստինե Աղալարյան):

Հավատացած լինելով, որ նման հայտարարությունները մեծապես տգիտության արդյունք են, որն արտահայտվում է ճնշող հայրիշխանական համակարգը պաշտպանելով ու ներկայացնելով որպես համազգային արժեք, բայց և այնպես գիտակցելով, որ հեղինակավոր պետական գործիչների կողմից արտահայտված կարծիքները կարող են հասարակության կողմից ընկալվել որպես պաշտոնական քաղաքականություն, քաղաքացիական հասարակության կառույցները և մի խումբ անհատ անձինք խստորեն դատապարտում են ատելություն ու անհանդուրժողականություն տարածող հայտարարությունները։ Վերջիններս անտեսում են քաղաքական/հասարակական/մշակութային գործչի պատասխանատվությունը առավել լայն հասարակության նկատմամբ, ինչպես նաև Հայաստանում ապրող միասեռականների կենսական անվտանգությունն ու կոնկրետ փորձառությունը՝ որպես հասարակության մաս։

Կոչ ենք անում պետական գործիչներին, լրագրողներին, ուսուցիչներին, բժիշկներին և հասարակության լայն շերտերի հետ գործ ունեցող այլ մասնագիտությունների տեր մարդկանց ու ընդհանրապես բոլոր քաղաքացիներին, ծանոթանալ միասեռական կանանց ու տղամարդկանց հուզող խնդիրներին, միասեռականությանն առնչվող ժամանակակից սոցիոլոգիական, մշակութաբանական գրականությանը, ինչպես նաև Հայաստանում բնակվող միասեռականների հասարակական ակտիվիստական գործունեությանը։

Խնդրում ենք ստորագրել վերը շարադրված բաց նամակը և ըստ ցանկության ավելացնել սեփական մտորումներն ու հայտարարությունները։

Կանանց Ուղղված Կանայք (queeringyerevan.blogspot.com)
24 հունվար, 2009

Friday, 23 January 2009

'Milk' in London. What about Armenia?

At last, Milk was formally released in London today. Must see!!

Brilliant film by one of my favourite directors Gus Van Sant. Amazing Sean Penn.

I left the cinema inspired by the civil rights movement led by Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay politician in San Francisco. Truly inspirational figure. Very current references to ongoing struggle for equality and human rights. "People told him no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored them" (TIME magazine, 100 most important people of the 20th century)

We need someone like Harvey Milk for Armenia. Someone who will inspire. Someone who will lead civil rights movement.

P.S. I doubt this film will be released in Yerevan cinemas. There should be no problem with DVDs though...

Mikael Danielyan: Defender of Freedom award

Prominent Armenian human rights activist Mikael Danielyan was presented with the Defender of Freedom award during the reception at the U.S. Embassy in Armenia devoted to the Martin Luther King Day.

«As a founder and head of the Armenian Helsinki Association, Danielyan fought for the rights of prisoners, conscripts and minorities», - said US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Present during the ceremony were leaders of political parties, foreign diplomats accredited in Armenia, the Ombudsman of Armenia, as well as representatives of NGOs.

Last year Mikael Danielyan was attacked in downtown Yerevan by former leader of "Armenian Progressive Party" Tigran Urikhanyan who accused Danielyan in destabilising the country and defending gay rights. (for details - 1; 2; 3)

Well deserved award. My congratulations to Mikael Danielyan!!

Unsurprisingly, pro-government tabloid-style newspaper Hayots Ashkharh criticized the nomination of Mikael Danielian for the Defender of Freedom award: “In order to stay in the centre of attention of humanity after the inauguration of Barack Omaba, Americans have taken a second step; they give an Defender of Freedom award to ‘human rights activist’ Mikael Danielian.”

*photo of Mikael Danielyan and Lara Aharonian of Women’s Resource Centre at the launch of the PINK Armenia Information Centre in downtown Yerevan, September 2008.

Armenian neo-nazi get united and organised. Does anyone care?

In December 2008, just before New Year holidays, the Association of Armenian Nationalists was established in Armenia by notorious ultra-nationalist groups and individuals. Among them – Armenian Aryan Order, ultra-nationalist group known for its anti-semitism and homophobia. The declared aim of this newly established union is “bringing together similarly-minded people in Diaspora and Armenia, and the creation of a strong Armenian nationalist organisation”.

For details, see Unzipped

Thursday, 22 January 2009

'Shocking revelation’ by Aravot daily: there are lesbians at odnoklassniki.ru, and they are Armenian

Today Aravot daily targets Armenian lesbians registered at the popular among post-Soviet states’ citizens odnoklassniki.ru social networking site (sort of Facebook in Russian).

Apparently, Aravot’s journalist Eva Hakobyan is shocked and dismayed at the fact of so many registered lesbians (and gays, in general) at odnoklassniki.ru. But the most shocking part of it for her is that they are… Armenian. Shocking! …and most of them are not ashamed of being lesbian. Very shocking! …and some of them put pretty revealing photos out there. Very-very shocking!

(N.B. Based on pictures and the info provided, I have an impression that at least partly she is confusing specially created ‘sex accounts’ with that of genuine lesbians.)

And Aravot’s journalist rings the bell: “At first sight, there is perhaps nothing particularly surprising when you meet gays and lesbians at odnoklassniki.ru. However, when you realise that they are Armenian, and each of them have more than 70 gay friends, that’s a matter for concern”.
Առաջին հայացքից գուցե այնքան էլ զարմանալի չէ, երբ odnoklassniki.ru կայքում հանդիպում ես արվամոլի, լեսբուհու, բայց երբ պարզվում է, որ վերջինս հայ է, նրա 70-ից ավելի ընկերները եւս սեռական փոքրամասնությունների ներկայացուցիչներ են՝ դա արդեն կարող որոշ մտահոգություն առաջացնել:
She could not hide her satisfaction that “99.9% of Armenian men [at odnoklassniki.ru] condemn” Armenian lesbians as per “negative comments” left below the latters' photos. This means, she continues, that the “absolute majority of Armenian youth is unambiguously against homosexuality”. She is quite irritated though that apparently Armenian lesbians ‘don’t care’, instead preferring to “have fun”. She ironizes that Armenian lesbians (and gays) are now “protected” as per Armenia’s endorsement of the UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What can I suggest to Eva Hakobyan? Get a life, girl, stop being judgemental, have fun, enjoy sex. Satisfaction is good.

Classical example of yellow journalism (below, in Armenian).

ՀԱՅ ԼԵՍԲՈՒՀԻՆԵՐՆ ԱԿՏԻՎԱՑԵԼ ԵՆ
Aravot, 22 January 2009
http://new.aravot.am/am/articles/culture/54469/view

Նրանք odnoklassniki.ru-ում փորձում են «կպցնել» իրենց դուր եկած աղջիկներին

Պարզվում է՝ միասեռականությանն արդեն նորմալ են վերաբերվում նաեւ Հայաստանում, այնքան նորմալ, որ ստորագրել ենք (2008 թ. դեկտեմբերի 9-ին) ՄԱԿ-ի Գլխավոր ասամբլեայում տեղի ունեցած նստաշրջանի ժամանակ արված հայտարարության տակ ու դրանով պարտավորվել պաշտպանել Հայաստանի համասեռամոլներին ու բացառել նրանց հանդեպ ցանկացած բռնություն ու վիրավորանք: Թե ում համար ընդունելի է փաստաթուղթը, ում համար՝ ոչ, դա ուրիշ խոսակցության թեմա է: Ամեն դեպքում՝ հայ սեռական փոքրամասնություններն իրենց «շրջապատը» մեծացնելու համար որեւէ թղթի կարիք չունեն: Հայտնի odnoklassniki.ru կայքը, որը ստեղծված է ընկերներին գտնելու, նրանց հետ շփվելու կամ նոր ընկերներ ձեռք բերելու նպատակով, համասեռամոլների համար էլ առավել նպաստավոր է իրենց էրոտիկ նկարները ցուցադրելու եւ իրենց նմաններին համախմբելու առումով: Եթե նախկինում ինտերնետային ծանոթությունների կայքերում դարձյալ կարելի էր հանդիպել մարդկանց, որոնք իրենց էրոտիկ լուսանկարներն էին ցուցադրում, ապա վերջիններս հայազգի ներկայացուցիչներ չէին: Այժմ, հավանաբար, սկզբունքները փոխվել են, հայուհիներն էլ կամ դարձել են ավելի «ժամանակակից», կամ էլ մի կողմ են նետել մեր ազգին բնորոշ երկչոտությունը: Առաջին հայացքից գուցե այնքան էլ զարմանալի չէ, երբ odnoklassniki.ru կայքում հանդիպում ես արվամոլի, լեսբուհու, բայց երբ պարզվում է, որ վերջինս հայ է, նրա 70-ից ավելի ընկերները եւս սեռական փոքրամասնությունների ներկայացուցիչներ են՝ դա արդեն կարող որոշ մտահոգություն առաջացնել:

odnoklassniki.ru-ում կարելի է գտնել անթիվ հայ լեսբուհիների, որոնք ոչ միայն չեն ամաչում իրենց «կարգավիճակի» համար, այլեւ ամբողջ աշխարհին ի ցույց են դնում իրենց մինչեւ իսկ այլանդակ լուսանկարները: Եթե փորձեք ծանոթանալ «մեր» լեսբուհիների տվյալներին, կապշեք՝ մեծամասնությունը 17-22 տարեկան է: odnoklassniki-ի նրանց «անկետաներում» էլ նշված է, թե ինչ խորագրերով (Private Lezbi Club, Girl & Girl, թսՈՎցՐվօպ րցփՍՌ, KTO LYUBIT KAYF...i ne tolko, KUNNY, KAMASUTRA 69, ԿոսՈՊՈՑպսՌ ոպրտՏՊՏովՏռ տՏտՍՌ..., Devushki, kotorye obojayut kunnilingus... Axjiknerov ankexc zruyc, LEZBI CHEN DARNUM, LESBI CNVUM EN, ARAJ HAJASTAN, ARAJ LESBINER, հԹԿըԿԺԸ ԻժխԸծԼշԾ, KUNILINGUS PO ARMYANSKI) խմբերի անդամներ են նրանք: Լեսբուհիների տվյալներն ու նրանց ընկերներին ուսումնասիրելիս պարզվեց, որ վերջիններիս մեջ դեռեւս կան ամաչկոտներ, որոնք ծպտյալ վիճակում են ու իրենց ոչ ավանդական կողմնորոշման պատճառով՝ կայքում մականուններով են: odnoklassniki.ru-ում որոշ լեսբուհիների անուն-ազգանունների փոխարեն կա՛մ ուժեղ սեռին ուղղված հայհոյանքներ են, կամ էլ՝ «տղաները չգրե՛ն» արտահայտությունը: Ի դեպ, կայքի հայ տղամարդկանց 99,9%-ը դատապարտում է նույն «տարածքի» հայ լեսբուհիներին: Վերջիններիս լուսանկարներին հայ տղաների կողմից արված հարյուրավոր բացասական մեկնաբանությունները խոսում են այն մասին, որ մեր երիտասարդների գերակշիռ մեծամասնությունը միանշանակ դեմ է միասեռականությանը: Հայ լեսբուհիների, մեղմ ասած՝ «բաց» լուսանկարների մեկնաբանությունների հիմնական մասը հայհոյանքներ են ու նաեւ ազգությունից հրաժարվելու պահանջ, բայց այս ամենը ոչ միայն չի «նեղացնում» գեղեցկուհիներին, այլեւ նրանք զվարճանում են իրենց հասցեին արված օրեցօր բազմապատկվող comment-ներից:

Այնպես որ՝ գեղեցիկ սեռի ներկայացուցիչներ, իմացե՛ք, եթե odnoklassniki.ru-ում ձեզ «հյուրընկալվեն» հմայիչ ու անթերի գեղեցկությամբ հայուհիներ ու հանդես գան տարաբնույթ սեքսուալ առաջարկություններով, չզարմանաք, չկոպտեք, նրանք «մեր» լեսբուհիներն են, որոնց, 2008 թ. դեկտեմբերի 9-ից սկսած, պարտավոր ենք պաշտպանել՝ ՄԱԿ-ի հայտարարությանն ենք միացել:

ԵՎԱ ՀԱԿՈԲՅԱՆ

Armenia’s ruling Republican party spokesman “doesn’t like gays”

A new rubric by Aravot daily intends presenting a more intimate portrait of Armenian politicians and other ‘famous people’ chatting about family, first date, sex… Today it was Eduard Sharmazanov’s turn. He is a spokesman of the ruling Republican party in Armenia.

Perhaps being ‘inspired’ by Armenia’s endorsement of UN gay rights statement (ruling party?), he expressed his feelings towards sexual minorities, “as Armenian guy” of “normal Armenian value system”.

Eduard Sharmazanov says: “Apart from being a politician, I live my life following a normal Armenian value system. I accept that a person has rights which should not be violated but, as Armenian guy, I don't accept, for example, sexual minorities and strongly object such phenomenon”.
Բացի քաղաքական գործիչ լինելուց, ապրում եմ նորմալ հայկական արժեքային համակարգով: Ընդունում եմ, որ մարդը իրավունքներ ունի, որոնք չպետք է ոտնահարվեն, բայց, օրինակ, սեռական փոքրամասնություններին, ես որպես հայ տղա, չեմ ընդունում ու այդ երեւույթին կտրուկ դեմ եմ:
This is now part of his ‘intimate portrait’.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

President Obama greets gay and lesbian marchers at Inauguration Parade



''The Lesbian and Gay Band Association. They are a national music organization who has concert and marching bands from cities across America, that makes up a network of Lesbian and Gay bands. Their participation marks the first time that an openly-gay and lesbian group has been invited to march in an Inaugural Parade.''

WTTG Fox5 news anchor Brian Boulter announcing on air the appearance of the LGBA in front of President Barack Obama at the viewing stand near the White House. Unfortunately, the parade started late and crowds had almost completely disappeared for the parade after waiting up to half a day in below-freezing temperatures. The LGBA appearance came 2/3 of the way into the program, and Barack and Michelle Obama can be seen waving warmly to the GLBT participants. The band reportedly had 177 people representing 17 states, and played John Philip Sousa's "The Washington Post March."

*source: Metro Weekly / Last Word

Obama's gay rights agenda

The (new) White House website, President Barack Obama

Civil Rights agenda

Support for the LGBT Community
"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect."

-- Barack Obama, June 1, 2007
* Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

* Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

* Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

* Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

* Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the current policy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

* Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

* Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

* Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

"Commemorative edition" of... Obama dildos

There is this company called Head O State which started selling... "commemorative edition" of Obama dildos.

Their website's (headostate.com) slogan says: "You love your candidate. Let him love you back!" :)

*Related articles:

NYT - Inspired by Obama’s Message? Pull Out Your Wallet

Salon - It's an Obamanation!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Thumbs down for Azerbaijan Eurovision 2009 entry

After getting confirmation that Azerbaijan made its selection for Eurovision 2009 - a newcomer and hardly known in her country Aysel Teymourzadeh, here are my first reflections.

(I mentioned this in comments section of my second blog Unzipped but decided to make a separate entry here too, as this blog is the main one to cover Eurovision related news.)

Now that I've seen few of her clips - it's average to below average. How on earth did they come up with such entry? They should work very hard on her vocal and performance skills to come up with something digestable. On the other hand, good news for Armenia - one potential contender is out, I suppose. Assuming, of course, that Armenia selection for Eurovision 2009 won't be similarly dismal. Here is hoping.

Russian "definition of feminism"... as per Cosmopolitan poll

Via GVO, Anna’s Out of Town News writes about online poll on "Who is a feminist?" by Russian Cosmopolitan magazine. Not only the choices for answers are outrageous and bizarre, but also the results of that so called poll itself.

The question reads: “Who is a feminist?” And here are the only choices for answers:

-A woman who doesn’t wear bras — 8.7%

-A woman who has bad luck with men — 58.49%

-A lesbian — 6.81%

-Condoleezza Rice — 26.01%

Human Rights Watch calls on California court to overturn Proposition 8

Human Rights Watch: Equality is a basic value underlying human rights standards and cannot be retracted at the whim of a simple majority, Human Rights Watch said in an amicus brief submitted to the California Supreme Court. Human Rights Watch called on the court to overturn Proposition 8, a referendum narrowly passed last November that withdrew the right to marry from lesbian and gay couples. More...

Sirusho at Tel Aviv's gay club

I posted about Armenia Eurovision 2008 representative Sirusho's plans to perform at Tel Aviv's gay club, along with her fellow Serbian and Israeli Eurovision representatives Jelena and Boaz. Below are two videos from that performance. It's not every day that we see popular Armenian singer performing at gay club. Therefore, I am happily posting these 2 videos, despite the quality of recording is not very good.





Sirusho, Jelena and Boaz recorded a song for peace co-written by the president of Israel Shimon Peres. Below are photos from "Sirusho - Eurovision Song Contest 2008" fan page in Facebook (uploaded by Micha Yesoudo). This song will be released in many countries. No more details are available as of now.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Transgender model steals the fashion show in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio closed its main fashion event of the year with less attention to the clothes than the model — a transgendered actress.

Patricia Araujo received a standing ovation after parading along the runway for the Complexo B brand late Friday to end the weeklong event in a city that delights in shocking the prudish with each year's Carnival celebration.

Complexo B designer Beto Neves said he invited Araujo to amaze the public.

"In fashion, the cool thing is to surprise," he told O Dia newspaper.

Globo Television's Web site called the 25-year-old Araujo "the star" of the show's final day, and model Isabeli Fontana told O Dia that Araujo "is the greatest."

Tall and slim, the dark-haired Araujo entered the catwalk wearing a long fur coat and quickly unveiled a short black-and-white dress to the applause of the hundreds of guests at the event.

"I love to be mobbed by the press," she told O Dia afterward. "I've always dreamed of being famous."

Her legal name is Patricia Oliveira, but she is known by the stage name of Araujo.

*AP Photo/Ricardo Moraes

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Hate, Lies & Ignorance – well known Armenian environmentalist Karine Danielyan attacks government for signing UN gay rights statement

'It’s a threat to national security! It’s a disease!' – says formerly respected Armenian environmentalist, head of the association “For Sustainable Human Development” NGO Karine Danielyan.

'It’s a matter of fighting discrimination and inequality' – says Dzyunik Aghajanyan, chief of international department, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs . My respects to Dzyunik Aghajanyan.


After Armenia endorsed historic UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which in itself was a historic occasion, I was expecting negative reactions and attacks towards government for their signature. But I was not expecting this attack to come from a well known Armenian environmentalist Karine Danielyan, head of the association “For Sustainable Human Development”, whom I’ve always respected and regarded as an intelligent person.

She called homosexuality a “disease” and a “threat to the national security”. She has doctoral degree. She’s been working for years with UN agencies, other international organisations. Her daughter, Ms. Elizabeth Danielyan, is the head of World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Armenia. If Dr. Karine Danielyan had any doubts about WHO classification of diseases, she could have easily asked about it Ms. Elizabeth Danielyan. Not asking or ‘not knowing’ or ‘not wanting to know’ does not excuse her ignorance in this particular case. She is not a random person whom journalists stopped in the street and asked a question about sexual orientation or gay rights.

She is ‘worried’ that with this statement, signed at the UN, LGBT Armenians would be ‘forced’ into the Armenian culture. As if we are not part of the Armenian culture or society. Charents, Parajanov...

Apparently, she is scared of ‘gay epidemic’ which will threaten the ‘sustainable development’ of Armenian nation. You know, the same old story of gays threatening the demography of nations. She mentioned those ridiculous numbers of “current 4-5% of gays” turning into 40% in future. If we take her logic for a moment, how come during the last decades or so our country experienced continuous drop in birth rate, increased migration and other factors affecting reproduction, which she herself mentioned? Whose fault is this? Not gays’ who are not yet part of the “culture”. According to her own logic.

Number of gay people is not (and will not be) increasing, Dr. Danielyan. It’s just when the level of tolerance towards minorities increases in the society, they become more visible, they start living without hiding who they are, without living a double life which you presumably more comfortable with.

Dr. Danielyan particularly scared of the following ‘apocalyptic’ scenario: children entering schools and reading books which tell them of “three types of love” – woman+woman, man+ woman, and man+man. When I entered the school, Dr. Danielyan, there was absolutely no access or exposure to any gay related literature or “culture”. I did not read books on “three types of love”. That did not make me straight.

She then said that she is against violence towards gays. I have a question. What do you do in the face of “threats to the national security” (your words, Dr. Danielyan)? Yes, you are right. You neutralise those threats.

Person who supposedly cares about environment has no or little respect to the human diversity. I would suggest all funding organisations which support Dr. Karine Danielyan’s NGO to withdraw or freeze their support conditional to her passing equality training. Dr. Danielyan urgently needs one.

She was in a company of two other persons. One of them was Harutyun Mesropyan, “management expert” I never heard of before. He brought an example of Israel which according to Mr. Mesropyan abstains from signing similar documents. “If Israel listened to international advice or signed international documents, they would not be able to exist as a country”, - said Mr. Mesropyan. First, Israel has the best record for respecting gay rights in Middle East. Then... Here is just a quick remark. Harutyun Mesropyan is lying. Israel signed the UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (sources: 1; 2; 3). [Similarly, Hraparak correspondent wrongly put Georgia among countries which “did not sign”. Georgia did sign the UN statement.] Wishful thinking, perhaps.

He then went on further comparing beatings of gay persons with similar beatings of “thousands of other young persons” implying that there is no statement to protect the latter’s rights. You are missing the point, Mr. Mesropyan. As the head of PINK Armenia rightly pointed out in his commentary, the fundamental difference here is that gay person was beaten because who he was, because of his sexual orientation, which significantly aggravates the case. While physical assault is to be condemned in any situation, consider this. Would you put an equal mark between beating an Armenian guy because he is Armenian, and beating a guy who happens to be Armenian because of any unrelated to his nationality cause? I bet you won’t. And rightly so.

The same “expert” claimed that Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsed the UN statement without consulting with the representatives of gay community in Armenia thus “jeopardising rights of sexual minorities”. And this became a headlining point in some Armenian media reports. WOW. As if he cares. Following his logic, I wonder why did not he consult with the representatives of LGBT community before making ‘statements’ to media. While I would certainly encourage Armenian government to consult with the representatives of LGBT community in Armenia on related issues, the UN statement was so straightforward in its condemnation of all sorts of discriminations and persecutions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and calling for respect for human rights and equality, that I wonder what they should have consulted for? Imagine these sorts of questions. Do you want to be discriminated or not? Do you want to be persecuted or not? Do you want your rights to be protected equally with the other segments of our society or not?.. Marasmic. However, consultation with gay groups would be a desired option to discuss ways of explaining the meaning and importance of the UN statement to the public, which is sadly lacking for now.

There was another person at the media club. Infamous ex-environmentalist Khachik Stamboltsyan. I am afraid, commenting his statements would be a complete waste of time as this guy turned itself into a clinical case full of manias. According to him, masons and gays together are in a plot to destroy the earth…(and this is not the first time he is making such ‘statements’) I will stop here. It’s totally ludicrous.

With all this negativity, there is one pretty positive and encouraging sign with this story. The positivism is associated with the chief of international department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Dzyunik Aghajanyan. It’s very encouraging to hear intelligent words from a person who is in charge of the MFA international department. She says that the very reason of the UN statement is to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination.

She stated clearly and unambiguously that everyone should be equal before the law, regardless of sexual orientation. There should be no discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

MFA representative said: “Yes, that’s true, we do not have this problem to the extent of other countries. For that very reason, to prevent it from reaching that extent, we signed this statement. There should be no violence, discrimination against [gays], their human rights should not be violated. Sadly, we have such evidence.”
ԱԳՆ ներկայացուցիչն այդ հայտարարությանը Հայաստանի միանալը բացատրեց հետևյալ կերպ. «Այո մենք այդ խնդիր չունենք այն աստիճան, ինչպես շատ երկրներ, և հենց այդ մտահոգությունից, որպեսզի այդ խնդիրը մեզ մոտ երբևէ չհասնի այդ աստիճանին, մենք միացանք այդ հայտարարությանը: Որպեսզի այդ անձանց նկատմամբ բռնություններ չկիրառվեն, այդ անձիք կարծրատիպային մոտեցումների չենթարկվեն, չոտնահարվեն նրանց իրավունքները, ցավոք մենք ունենք նման տվյալներ»:
According to Dzyunik Aghajanyan, the statement says that regardless of sexual orientation (identity), a person shall not be subjected to violence, harassment or discrimination of any kind. «I do not think that in our country there will be people who will say that it is not true and that the law should be applied in different ways, depending on the sexual orientation. The law is identical for all”. Sadly, there will be many people in Armenia who would disagree with Ms. Aghajanyan's statement.
По ее словам, в заявлении говорится о том, что, независимо от сексуальной идентичности, человек не должен подвергаться насилию и преследованиям или какой-либо дискриминация. «Я не думаю, что в нашей стране найдется человек, который скажет, что это не так и что закон должен применяться по-разному, в зависимости от сексуальной идентичности человека. Закон одинаков для всех»
Aravot daily asked Dzyunik Aghajanyan what would her reaction be if she passed through the children park with her son and witnessed two men kissing. How she would explain this “incident” to her child? Dzyunik Aghajanyan responded saying that “even if it’s a couple of woman and man kissing, you would not stare at them. It’s a matter of differences in approaches; it depends on how you should bring up your child. Creating taboos is not a solution”.
«Առավոտի» հաջորդ հարցին՝ եթե իր զավակի հետ անցնի մանկական զբոսայգով եւ հանդիպի համբուրվող տղամարդկանց, ինչպե՞ս փոքրիկին կմեկնաբանի այդ «դրվագը», տիկին Աղաջանյանը պատասխանեց. «Այսպես թե այնպես, եթե օրը ցերեկով հասարակական վայրում զույգը, թեկուզ կին եւ տղամարդ, համբուրվում է, չես նայում: Այստեղ մոտեցումների խնդիր է, հարցն այն է, թե քո երեխային ինչպես պետք է դաստիարակես: Տաբուներ ստեղծելով՝ հարցը չի վերանում»:
As far as I am aware, Dzyunik Aghajanyan is the first high ranking Armenian official to clearly and unambiguously voice her opinion against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in such an explicit way and under such a difficult conditions. Well done, Ms. Aghajanian. My respects.

*source of photo: Hraparak

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Entropa

Poland
Poland is represented by a group of Catholic monks erecting the rainbow flag of the gay community.

Netherlands
The Netherlands is seen as series of minarets submerged by a flood - a possible reference to the nation's simmering religious tensions.

Italy
Italy is seen as a massive football pitch, suggesting a nation with a fetish for football.

*More pictures... (source - BBC)

BBC reports: A new art installation going on display at the European Council building in Brussels has angered EU members with its lampoons of national stereotypes.

Entropa portrays Bulgaria as a toilet, Romania as a Dracula theme-park and France as a country on strike.

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency, thought it had commissioned work from 27 European artists.

But it turned out to have been entirely completed by Czech artist David Cerny and two associates. [...]

Mr Cerny, who presented Entropa to his government with a brochure describing each of the artwork's 27 supposed contributors from each member state, has apologised for misleading ministers, but not for the installation itself.

"We knew the truth would come out," said Mr Cerny. "But before that we wanted to find out if Europe is able to laugh at itself."

He added that Entropa "lampoons the socially activist art that balances on the verge between would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space".

Mr Cerny first created a splash in the early 1990s when he painted a Soviet tank, a Second World War memorial in a Prague square, bright pink.


*source of picture: Radio Prague

Monday, 12 January 2009

Jewish singer Noa and Arab singer Mira together will represent Israel in Eurovision 2009

Billed as a song contest, Eurovision has always been about politics too.

Citing Israeli news sources, Esctoday reports that Israel's Eurovision committee "has decided to propose the singers Noa and Mira Awad to represent the country in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow. IBA has confirmed the news to esctoday.com. Awad, being an Arab-Israeli, will be the first one of her community to represent Israel in the song contest. The Israeli Atrists Union represntative, who was a member of the jury, commented to Ynet.co.il: "I appreciate Marina as an artist and hope we will see her on the Eurovision Song contest's stage in future. Noa is currently the most successful Israeli artist abroad, and I am confident they will make us proud".

It seems that Noa was first selected this morning on her own to represent Israel in Eurovision, and then conditioned her participation in performing in a duet with her friend, Arab-Israeli singer, Mira Awad."

Eurovision-related website also links to a few years old video of Noa & Mira performing the Beatles hit "We can work it out". Their statements on the situation in Middle East, while not being related to the current situation in Gaza, still relevant. Although I do not particularly like their performance of "We can work it out", I like the idea behind their act.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Patricia Kaas to represent France in Eurovision 2009

I am so happy with this news (esctoday and oikotimes). Patricia Kaas will represent France in Eurovision 2009 in Moscow!! Yes! She was a big star years ago. She was extremely popular in Armenia and elsewhere. I loved her. Her songs are so sexy. She will definitely get my vote during Eurovision song contest. Things looking very hot and exciting for Eurovision 2009 in Moscow. Even the UK, which during the last decade did not take Eurovision seriously, now is conducting a very 'serious' campaign led by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now if only Armenia makes THE right choice, this would be one of the most exciting Eurovisions ever.





Friday, 9 January 2009

Armenia marks 85th bday of Parajanov


Public Radio of Armenia reports:

Renowned Armenian film director of the 20th century, People’s Artist of Armenia and Ukraine Sergey Parajanov would turn 85 today. On this occasion his relatives and art lovers visited the Komitas Pantheon to pay tribute to the memory of the great aesthete.

The whole life of the famous and wonderful director was an amusing and tragic, attractive and sometimes very dangerous game, especially in a Soviet country. His first important film was the “Shadows of forgotten ancestors” shot in 1964.

One of Parajanov’s masterpieces is the film “The color of pomegranate” telling about Sayat Nova. Both films were, however, criticized during Soviet times. “Being the king of clowns, he never became the clown of the kings.” These words are perhaps the most characteristic of Parajanov.

According to Director of Parajanov’s home-museum Zaven sargsyan, his greatest value was that he was trying to have no controversies with his own conscience, say what he thinks and what he considers to be right.

In 1973 the Soviet government sentenced Parajanov to five years of imprisonment, accusing him of homosexuality. Many artists, writers, directors from different sides of the world reacted to his imprisonment. Despite that, only in four years Parajanov was set free due to mediation of Louis Aragon, a world-known French writer.

For many years he was prohibited from shooting films. Only in 80s he was allowed to shoot the “Legend of the Surinam Tower” and “Ashug Gharib.”

During the last years of his life Parajanov was shooting the autobiographic film “Confession,” which remained uncompleted and was later used for Michael Vardanov’s documentary titled “Parajanov’s last spring.” Parajanov died of cancer in July 1990 in Yerevan. 2009 is a jubilee year for the great artist.

Minister of Culture Hasmik Poghosyan assures that the occasion will be used to present the greatest Armenian director to the world.

*image from Namakani film; /emphasis mine/

What about gay marriage?

Check out this satire! :)

Criminal Lover (the exhibition)


First I loved the title of this exhibition. It reminded me of one of my favourite films by Francois Ozon "Criminal Lovers". Then I loved the exhibition. This small exciting exhibition by Jamie Mcleod was at First Out cafe in central London.

Time Out London: "Exhibition of photographs by Jamie Mcleod, a homage to the lost and found boys of London - the renters, the addicts, the angels and the criminally beautiful."

First Out cafe exhibition page:

"The Criminal Lover exhibition is a contuation of the Lost Boys exhibiton I had previously at First Out and it is a homage to the currency of youth and the lost and found boys that maybe once were us or who pass us on the street. It celebrates the renters, the addicts, the criminally sick, the beautiful, the angelic, the evil, the god-sent, and the iconic. The exhibition is about the labyrinth of the city and its dark pleasures and how a man can get lost in her razzle - dazzle of charms and excess to maybe never return. You will also find the spirit of Genet, Burroughs, Marc Almond and Joe Dellasandro amongst the unknown faces, the so called "nobodies" that Mcleod lovingly turns into "somebody".

"It is a collection of photos and candy coloured defaced screen-prints that are all highly attractive to the eye but with closer inspection reveal a love for all things dark and forbidden. He seems to soil what was a very pop image and to defile it with his imagination. Mcleod says "I'm interested in the semiotics of the city, it's bombardment of stimuli and decoding it and my obsessions within these realms. I use bodies, faces, masks, poetry, dreams, neon signs, road signs, poison labels, cinematic narrative and song lyrics to compose and inspire my images. I conjure up my desires from the twinkling lights and the neon signs and the faces and characters that brush into my space".

“Party & Paparazi” – new Yerevan club life / entertainment blog

Back in October I wrote about new blog Night People Yerevan which covers Yerevan club scene and entertainment life.

Here is another new blog I came across with recently. The author is Yerevan club scene photographer Arthur. He too covers Armenian capital’s night life and show-biz news. It’s called “Party & Paparazi”, in Armenian (translit) and accessible at:

http://party-paparazi.blogspot.com/

I got an impression that these are two rival blogs, but anyway.

Night People Yerevan magazine has just been shut down due to financial reasons. Hopefully its blog recently renamed as Kamoblog will continue postings.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Merry (Armenian) Christmas!!

To all readers of my blogs who celebrate Armenian Christmas (and to those who do not), have no doubts, no matter what anyone says - You Are Beautiful!

Merry Christmas!!

*Read more: Alternative Christmas Message

Blue Puppy – amazing Soviet time animation

Blue Puppy is a Soviet time animation made in 1976! It’s a story of a puppy who was born blue coloured (read different) and thus rejected by all, laughed at and assaulted. Then Good Seaman appeared and defeats the Pirate, the Black Cat, the oppressors. “Now, nobody tries to avoid the Puppy. More importantly, however, the Puppy now has a real friend with the lesson being that it is not awful to be different than others if one has friends and the rest respect you.”

For those who know Russian, blue colour (Russian: Голубой щенок, translit. Goluboy shchenok) brings an immediate connotation with being gay, as in former Soviet Union countries gays are frequently referred to as “blue”, normally having more negative subtext.

Many thanks to Transgenders in Armenia for links to this animation.

part 1


part 2

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Azeri pop singer’s “laws of nature”

There is this on-going saga of pretty cheap ‘scandalous’ public displays between two, shall we say, clans of Azeri pop scene – female singer Flora Kerimova and male singer Faiq Agayev: they ‘accuse’ each other of being gay or immoral.

Now another Azeri popular singer Nadir Gafarzadeh of Flora Kerimova’s camp stepped in providing his very own interpretation of the “laws of nature”:

“If the woman had several husbands, or was intimate with men, then that's OK, because this is a law of nature. Sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is natural. However, if a man got intimate with another man, then that’s immoral as this is contrary to the laws of nature.”

Well, the first part of his “laws of nature” on women having several husbands or being intimate with men is almost ‘revolutionary’ from Azeri perspectives. I wanted to say WOW, but then, eh, his following ‘logic’ spoiled it.

For all your dating needs - Be courageous! (Pepsi Max ad)

You can do it too ;)



*via gay.ru

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Carl Tashian: US marriage equality flag

In 1902, the Women's Suffrage movement created their own version of US flag with only four stars, one for each state that allowed women to vote. The Cali Garmo reports that following this historic example of women’s right movement, New York-based engineer and designer of Armenian origin Carl Tashian started a protest flag for equal marriage rights. The flag was made before the Prop 8 passed in California, so originally it had 3 stars. However, after the Prop 8 passed, the designer had to remove a star.

Currently, as Carl Tashian writes in a specially established Facebook group – The flag of equal marriage - “The flag only has two stars, for Connecticut and Massachusetts (the 5th and 6th state in the union), the only states with legalized same-sex marriage. The suffragists did the same thing in 1902, and it seemed to work...”