Monday, 31 May 2010

Internet users & Eurovision fans obsessed with searching for Eva Rivas 'sex tape' and 'nude pictures'

As usual around Eurovision time, number of visits to my blog growth exponentially. This is not the news, has been the case since I started blogging several years ago. What is news, however, is the type of keywords internet users search to visit my blog. [keyword search via internet search engines is one of the ways people access my blog]

Apparently, many net users and Eurovision fans became too obsessed by Armenia representative looks and ‘apricot stones’, and they started digging for more.

Top three Eva Rivas related searches were for:

1. “Eva Rivas nude”
2. “Eva Rivas naked”
3. “Eva Rivas porn”.

Related were searches for “Eva Rivas nude pics” (or “naked pics”), “Eva Rivas sexy photos” and even “Eva Rivas porn video”. Some were searching for “Eva Rivas boob job” and “Eva Rivas boobs”. There were even searches for “Eva Rivas gay”, “Eva Rivas transexual” [spelling as in original keyword] and “Eva Rivas transvestite” (!!) People actually wonder... Oh, my... :)

Of course, there were more predictable searches about:

“Eva Rivas height” [“Eva Rivas tall”, “Eva Rivas how tall”, “Eva Rivas feet”, “Eva Rivas how tall is she”]
“Eva Rivas”
“Eva Rivas wikipedia”
“Eva Rivas biography”
“Eva Rivas pictures”
“Eva Rivas wiki”
“Eva Rivas Angelina Jolie”
“Eva Rivas Armenia”
“Eva Rivas, sayat nova - tamam ashkhar”
“Emmi and Eva Rivas”
“Eva Rivas eurovision”.

There were also few searches for “Eva Rivas tattoo”.

However, all these searches were far-far behind the top three I indicated at the beginning.

In fact, over these past few days “Eva Rivas nude” keyword pushed the more appropriate for my blog “gay Armenia” to No. 2.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Eurovision: It’s Berlin 2011

Cograts to Germany. Lena was not among my top favourites, and I still think Germany was overrated, but I can see her appeal. She was incredibly charming and different, you know, Björk-like different. In fact, I quite fancy going to Berlin for Eurovision 2011. No doubt, would be fun. Fingers crossed, nothing will change my plans.

I thought Denmark was OK but overrated too. I liked Romania. Funny, entertaining, very Eurovision-y. Could not stop smiling during their performance.

Glad to see Belgium and Turkey won respective semi-finals. Totally deserved.

Overall, I thought entries who participated in semi-s performed worse during the final, except Belgium, Turkey, Moldova and Romania.

During the show, which I was watching with a big crowd in London’s Soho, we did not notice anything unusual during Spain’s performance. And then were surprised to see a repeat of their performance towards the end. Only at home, watching the recording of Eurovision, I noticed that stage intrusion by someone from the audience (Jimmy Jump). It took a short while till he was taken away by the security. (video below) That was the reason why they allowed Spain to repeat their performance. Fair enough.

I am impressed how the Spanish singer and team on stage ignored the intruder, and continued singing and dancing, as if nothing happened. Well done. I liked Spain. It was sweet, and took me back to childhood memories.

Armenia, Azerbajan and Georgia: What I said in my previous post, still stands. Plus... Safura looked tired and lacking energy. Graham Norton, British TV presenter, called Eva “the sexiest babe” and suggested a Miss Caucasus title :)

Actually, Graham Norton mentioned a right word re Georgia entry: “they slightly overproduced it”. And I think this was true for all three South Caucasus countries.

But hey, that’s the glory of Eurovision, isn’t it? :) Otherwise, what will we bitch about. I have to confess, this whole ‘analysing’ thing re Eurovision is very entertaining for me.

As per Twitter reports, at some point “Armenia” (or “Armenian”/”Armenien” - what was with that spelling?) and “Apricot Stone” were trending.

Btw, I won a bet with a friend of mine. I bet that Armenia won’t give 12 points to Russia. Also, on Twitter, when asked who I think Armenia might give its 12 points for, I replied: "very difficult to predict this year. Might be Georgia, Ukraine... not sure" (yes, it was Georgia)

I liked Norwegian male presenter Erik Solbakken. He was a star. Funny and charming. He was particularly impressive and hilarious when after the show - announcing that 15 mins voting time interval - started changing clothes live while doing all sorts of tricks.

I loved very much that Euro flashmob dance part. Was great seeing and feeling Europeans throughout the continent - beyond the EU formal borders - united in fun. See, it is possible. Yes, we can!! :)))

One more thing - do not trust or take too serious bookmakers or Google predictions, or readers’/fan poll results. Treat it as part of the entertainment, and take it easy. They are easily manipulated. If you want to get a general idea on trend and changing preferences, follow Eurovision related websites, blogs and forums (e.g. esctoday, oikotimes, escdaily, escnation forum).

Below is the official Eurovision final Top Ten (surprised Iceland did not make it; would prefer to see here Moldova too, loved their show and that sax player was very funny):


See you in Berlin 2011 !!

*picture - by

Friday, 28 May 2010

Eurovision 2010 2nd semi: Eva Rivas, South Caucasus and Turkey

I said it before, and will repeat it here: Eva, you look stunning, although I do not agree with her fashion director re dress.

But I do have BIG problem with that dancing act, not Eva’s, but the male dancer on the background. It was extremely distracting, and out of place. It was bad. Eva could do perfectly without any background dancer.

During her performance I was like: please-please, cameraman, do not show the dancer, just focus on Eva. OK, Jivan was great too.

Eva’s moves improved a lot, she was more confident on the stage, you could see she feels the stage, and she did not do that belly dancing stuff which I was referring to and criticising in my previous post. And the result was really good.

She seemed a bit nervous, though, and vocally not as good as she could be. I hope she would rest her voice till the finals, because she can sing much better.

Safura: Yes, she looks pretty, and the song is nice enough, but vocally she was not good. That back singers were awful and out of tunes. Although I prefer her dancer to Eva’s, still, the dancing act looked out of place. Safura could not move on the stage at all. It was as if she was placed on the stage without knowing what to do with it. And that glove she was wearing was simply horrific. Worse than I expected.

Re Georgia: OK performance, but nothing remarkable. The main thing I did not like about Georgia was the abundance of crosses. It’s not a Georgian church, Sofia, it’s Eurovision.

I absolutely loved Turkey’s performance. I can now confidently say that my second favourite from this semi-final is Turkey with maNga rock band. I was singing along, and after. Thumbs up.

Overall, I have to confess, it feels great that South Caucasus (+ Turkey) made it through to the final. They all deserved it, especially when you compare with other participants of the 2nd semi.

Here is my top 3 for the final:

1. Armenia
2. Belgium
3. Turkey, Iceland (can’t decide between these two, they are very different, but I like them)

The OKs are the following countries (in no particular order): Greece, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Albania, Moldova. Romania made me smile a lot tonight, the same way as Moldova did during the 1st semi. It was something :) Re automatic finalists: Germany is very cute and charming, albeit overrated. I actually like Spain too. It’s sweet. UK is decent but nothing special.

Eva Rivas will be performing at No. 21 on 29 May (final). When asked after the draw "Who do you think is the hardest competition for you in the final?", she replied: 
"You are a provocateur, you know that? (laughs) We who are competing in the Eurovision Song Contest are all friends and it would not be fair [to] say who is my hardest competition."

P.S. Btw, was nice to see so many Armenians right next to the stage. Also, good to spot a mixture of Turkish and Armenian flags waving when it was announced that Turkey went through to the final. That’s a kind of spirit - competitive but friendly - I like to see during Eurovision song contest.

*pictures - via

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Eva Rivas on a mission to promote UK government’s 5-a-day healthy eating target (Eurovison fans)

Let’s see what Eurovision fans are discussing re Armenia entry this year. Below are just few of my picks which made me smile.

One of the frequently discussed topics about Eva Rivas: “how tall is she?”. Predictable, yes. But the curiosity of Eurovision fans doesn’t stop here. They also wonder: “Is she a human?”
“Has anyone seen Eva Rivas's birth certificate? Is she really a woman?”
“She's actually two women put on top of each other :)”
“Once more. Shes an Avatar :)”
Apricot Stone, well, apricots to be precise, inspired an exchange by health conscious fans.
“Just assume Armenia wins... are we going to have a whole bunch of songs about Fruits next year? Perhaps a Healthy ESC-week with fives-a-day :D?”
“Probably Azerbaijan will withdraw,pretending to be on the vegetable side :p"
Here I disagree. 5-a-day target of healthy eating by the UK government implies peaceful coexistence and consumption of both fruits and vegetables :)

Good luck, Eva! And wish you all have fun time tonight. It's the second semi-final, afterwards. Excitement :)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Is A1+ dead? You know, the REAL one, the one which I liked...

This report today (video above, in AM, for written version follow this link) by independent / pro-opposition A1+ TV station which was forced to cease broadcasting for apparent political motives, and currently in an online mode, made me think. May be those who closed down A1+ after all succeeded in their mission?... Is A1+ dead?..

The A1+ I knew was a premier source for alternative news and reports, a tribune for voices you would not normally hear in a mainstream media, devoted to human rights... Or may be, after so many years, I started idealising that TV station, and I needed this reality check to see things more realistically.

When I was reading and watching this report which was supposedly about gays in Armenia, but in reality about sex workers who happened to be gay, transsexual or transvestite, I realised that I can no longer recognise the TV station I was a supporter and fond of.

If this is how the new face of journalism at A1+ will look like, then why would I even bother waiting for their return to TV screens in Armenia?! Optimistic part in me tries to believe that this is just a one-off failure rather than a new trend. But if standards of journalism would be as low as elsewhere, then why bother?

I wanted to see A1+ as the real plus one to Armenian TV media. Otherwise, one more, one less, doesn’t matter.

It’s not the fact that they decided to do a report on sex workers who are gay, transsexual or transvestites (Btw, they mixed up the terms). But an attempt to put an equal mark between sex workers and gays (and not only by A1+). This is what bothers me as totally wrong, uneducated and homophobic. It’s as if they start presenting all women as sex workers just because there are female sex workers.

Also, the general tone of the report was shifted to create a targeted negative attitude towards gays. It was homophobic. Full stop.
P.S. Thanks to my journalist friend Shushan Harutyunyan who pointed out to this article as unacceptable and homophobic via comments on Twitter.
Via @blansharm: Թող ինձ ներեն իմ կոլեգաները, բայց անէթիկական, հոմոֆոբիկ ու դելետանտական նյութ էր #Armenia #homophobia
After that, A1+ changed some of discriminatory Armenian terms to refer to gays into acceptable ones (“համասեռամոլ” into “միասեռական”), but not everywhere, and the report itself stands as it was.

Eurovision 2010 1st semi: In love with Belgium (+hotness index +"qyartu" in Eurovision)

I was live tweeting my immediate impressions along with watching the 1st semifinal of Eurovision 2010. Below I’ll try to sum up some of the main points.

Here we are. Never thought I would make this confession during Eurovision. Yes, yes, yes, I did fall in love with the Belgian singer Tom Dice. While he may not be your typical Eurovision entry, it was a class act all the way: song, performance, singer. He did not need complicated weird shows on stage or supporting dancers or back vocals. It was a one-man performance, and I loved it.

Back to the beginning of the evening, I quoted personal preferences of BBC Eurovision, received via their twitter:
Here are @bbceurovision preferences:"Personally speaking, I really like #Ireland, #Romania, #Iceland, #Finland & #Armenia! :)" #Eurovision
Then there was an immediate commentary by BBC re Russia performance: "3 minutes of misery - Lost and Forgotten" :)

Before Russia, Moldova did quite a bit of cheering up. I remember their performance with a smile on my face. It was light and entertaining.

Albania delivered a typical Eurovision performance, no more, no less, and it was not bad at all.

Then there was a turn for another typical Eurovision + typical Greece all-male performance. All men were hot, except for singer. He did sing OK, though. It was Hoppa, or Oppa :)))

I even managed spotting someone who would we normally call “qyartu” in Armenian. Watch out for that guy in black glasses during Macedonia’s entry.

When Iceland took the stage, all tweets were about associations with volcanic eruption and whether Europe “will forgive Iceland”:
@bbceurovision: And finally tonight, another one of the favourites, Hera Bjork from Iceland. Will Europe forgive the volcano?
Icelandic representative was pretty good, and as they passed through to the final, I may safely assume that Europe did indeed forgive for the volcanic ash chaos, well, at least for the occasion.

Before the results of voting were announces, I indicated my faves from the 1st semi: Belgium, Greece, Albania, Iceland, Moldova. I could not decide re Serbia (too distracted by his haircut).

I was pleased that all my faves are through to the final.

Oh, and did I already mention this?! Belgium singer + Greece dancers = hot Eurovision.

And now, to make sure you’ll keep up the sexy mood till Thursday’s 2nd semi, watch this brief preview of Kylie Minogue’s All The Lovers video. Can’t wait to see the full version. Looks sexy ;)

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Homophobic posters in Yerevan, Armenia

Apparently, homophobic posters appeared all over Yerevan. They are prepared by ultra-nationalist right-wing group who call themselves Mek Azg (‘One Nation’). In short, the group of a*holes.

Poster (in Armenian) reads: “Say no to homosexuality, and to erotic websites” (‘Ոչ ասացեք համասեռա-մոլությանը, ինտերնետային երոտիկ կայքերին’).

This group is known for its constant hate posters and speeches towards various groups or anything which is beyond what they consider 'suited our nation'.

Not only this group’s activities promote hate, but they are also responsible for littering Yerevan streets with their garbage, and should be made to clean up the mess they are responsible for and pay for it.

*Many thanks to Sergey Sargsyan for picture.

LA-based Armenian LGBT group - GALAS, held its 5th conference "Breaking Trough: Legally, Politically, Culturally"

Breaking Barriers: GALAS Empowers LGBT Armenians

by UHRC on 23/05/10
The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) held its fifth annual Armenian LGBT Conference titled “Breaking Through: Legally, Politically, Culturally” on Saturday, May 15. The event took place at the Plummer Park Community Center in West Hollywood, bringing together activists from different communities to participate and speak as part of the panel discussion.

The first session included panelists Stephan Johnson of Lamda Legal and Jimmy Nguyen of Equality California. They discussed the current status of the Federal Prop 8 court case, SB 906 (Civil Marriage Religious Freedom Act), and statewide efforts to restore marriage equality. Nguyen reported that after the passage of Proposition 8, which denied marriage equality in California, activists have been working harder and reaching out to more communities to demand equality and action.

The second session was presented by Raffi Hamparian of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) and Luis Lopez of Honor Political Action Committee and focused on political issues important to the Armenian and LGBT communities. They discussed the various ways in which activists and community members could take grassroots political action in order to advance their cause. Presenters discussed the most effective methods that can be used to influence decision makers. “The Armenian American community is a broad and diverse entity and one where all voices should be welcomed and heard,” said Hamparian. “The political activism needed to advance justice with respect to the Armenian Genocide and Artsakh is needed from all segments of our community. That means we need the involvement of everyone in our community; young and old, rich and poor, those with a college degree and those with none, those who are gay and those who are straight, or those who were born in America or those who came to this country as immigrants. The rainbow of diversity in our community is a strength, not a weakness. We need to seize our diversity to advance our common cause for justice. This I believe,” he added.

The final session included a presentation from Greg Matsunami, representing Asian Pacific Islander (API) Equality-LA, who spoke about actions they have taken to educate their community about Prop 8 and solicit support for other LGBT issues. According to Greg, there have been many parallels drawn between the Armenian and Asian experience. “Coming out to our family as well as our community is equally challenging,” he stated.

Armen Sarkissian, president of GALAS, discussed some of the issues facing LGBT Armenians. According to a poll on the GALAS website, 45% of LGBT Armenians have come out to their friends and only 9% to their family and friends. “For a majority of their lives, LGBT Armenians face extraordinary difficulties,” he stated. “They are afraid that their families and community will find out and that they may no longer be accepted.”

Although many Armenians and prominent Armenian community leaders such as Paul Krekorian and Nairi Nahabedian have shown their full support of LGBT Armenians, homophobia still exists in many minority communities including our own. Homophobic slurs like “that’s so gay” or “don’t be such a faggot” are constantly thrown around because we have become numb to their derogatory meanings. It is critical to step back and take a look at the serious consequences of hateful speech towards the LGBT. Denial, emotional distress, alienation and even suicide are just a few of the problems LGBT people suffer. LGBT youth are four times more likely to commit suicide then their heterosexual counterparts.

The time has come for our larger communities to recognize the unique vulnerabilities of LGBT people. Because Armenians have been subject to years of oppression and human rights violations, we have made it a moral imperative to fight against injustice. Ironically, we continue to oppress our own people. We can’t be selective in our morality. We can’t say we are fighters of justice when we continually oppress those in our own community. We need to work and stand together. Do not let us be divided. We must find our inner activist and work for a more progressive society.

Those who participated in this year’s conference came away with stronger, clearer ideas about the challenges and opportunities facing LGBT Armenians. To help work towards building a united movement and advocating for the rights of LGBT Armenians, visit the GALAS website at

Monday, 24 May 2010

“Modern gay classic” French Armenian Serge Avedikian won Palme d'Or 2010 at Cannes

Simply amazing news. French Armenian director, actor, writer and producer Serge Avedikian received the highest award at Cannes - Palme d'Or - Short Film, 2010, for Chienne d’Histoire (Barking Island). [Another director of Armenian origin, Lebanese Armenian video artist and filmmaker Vatche Boulghourjian was awarded 3rd prize Cinéfondation Ex-aequo, 2010, for Hinkerord Zorasune (The Fifth Column). Congrats, Vatche!!]

Congrats, dear Serge!!

Serge Avedikian made an unforgettable mark on the history of world gay cinema by playing in a very different wartime love story - Nous étions un seul homme (We Were One Man), film by renown French director Philippe Vallois in 1979.

Critiques call it the “most unusual wartime love story”, “a modern gay classic”.
“We Were One Man' had its U.S. premiere at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1980, where it was awarded the prestigious Silver Hugo. Written, produced, edited, and directed by France's premiere gay director, Philippe Vallois [...]

Serge Avedikian who plays the French simple minded country asylum runaway Guy and Piotr Stanislas who plays the German soldier Rolf both deliver performances which are truly extraordinary.”

“In rural France, a male farmer comes across a wounded German officer. Allowing his pacifist nature to supersede his patriotism, the farmer hides the German in his barn. The two men become friends....and then, lovers. Handled with taste (if not always discretion), We Were One Man offers a fascinating variation on the standard "opposites attract" theme.”

Brief biography (based on Wikipedia): Avedikian’s parents were born in France, children of survivors of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. In 1947, influenced by Stalin's and Maurice Thorez' propaganda, they left to rejoin the motherland, where Avedikian, born in Yerevan in 1955, attended the French school. At the age of fifteen along with his family, he returned to France. He got his stage debut in college, in his professor's amateur theater company. After studies at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Meudon (France), he arrived in Paris in 1971 where he worked with the students of the Paris Conservatory. In 1976, he created a theater company and produced several plays. At the same time, he pursued a career as a theater, movie and television actor. In 1988, he founded his own production company but continues to direct films. Currently, he is working on his first feature film The Last Round.

(pictures - via Filmes de Interes Gay)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Eurovision 2010: Armenia Eva Rivas and Azerbaijan Safura - my subjective comparisons

based on impressions from first rehearsals

Music and Lyrics: Music-wise, I prefer Apricot Stone by Eva Rivas, but not sure about the lyrics. While objectively it [the lyrics] may be better than Safura’s, I think “Drip Drop” is more appropriate for the type of contest Eurovision is. I am not convinced that singing about “motherland” fits well with the Eurovision. As to the music of Safura’s song, I find it boring.

Dress: I know, we have not seen the final version of dresses yet, so difficult to judge what will be on the menu, but so far I was pretty disappointed fashion-wise for Eva Rivas. Even if it’s a rehearsal, wearing a tracksuit is a big no. During the second rehearsal she changed it into a more appropriate trendy one (see picture above), still... not impressive. I can’t say I am particularly happy with Safura’s dresses, but they are classier.

Moves: Eva Rivas progressed quite a lot since her first performance of Apricot Stone for the national final. She now moves and feels the stage much better. However, there is big room for improvement both for Eva and Safura. Frequently, Safura’s moves are somewhat awkward, and Eva Rivas should minimise or stop at all belly-dancing bit.

Show: Overall, I find Armenia’s show more interesting. Azerbaijan’s was a quality one but too predictable. However, that dancer guy is definitely much better (and hotter) in Safura’s show.

Look: Eva Rivas is beautiful in a stunning Angelina Jolie way, while Safura is beautiful in a cute teenager kind of way.

Vocals: Here where Eva Rivas is a clear winner. Her vocals were pretty good, especially during the first rehearsal. This is perhaps Safura’s ‘weakest link’, although she improved on vocals lately.

Overall impression:

I do not think Armenia will win, although with a good performance during the night, Eva Rivas might end up pretty OK. The chances for Azerbaijan win are much higher, if we trust bookies too. But it will all depend on other countries’ performances during the night too. Have not had time to closely follow other performances as yet, but will catch up during the coming days.

I am going to vote for Eva Rivas. I will most probably vote for a second choice too, both during the semi-final and final. I do not think it will be Safura, as I can’t say I am her fan, well, unless she does something extraordinarily amazing during the night. But she is lovely girl, and I wish her good luck. My second preference in voting will depend on me watching all other performances and how well they will do it during the day.

P.S. I am worried that due to last year KGB-style interference in voting by Azerbaijan officials, local Eurovision fans might be scared to vote for Armenia, even if they’d like to. Thankfully, we did not have anything similar in Armenia. I am sure Safura has already had fans in Armenia who will vote for her, if indications on Armenian Facebook are anything to go by.

*pictures - by (here and here)

Saturday, 22 May 2010

This is London (pics) seen via Selfridges window displays

and London underground...

Armenia aligns with the EU statement on the human rights of LGBT people in Malawi

Armenia aligns with the EU statement on the human rights of LGBT people in Malawi.
Declaration by High Representative Catherine Ashton on behalf of the European Union on the human rights of LGBT people in Malawi


The EU expresses its concern about homophobia and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in Malawi and recalls that the principle of non-discrimination is enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Government of Malawi has been a party since 1993. The UN Human Rights Committee has affirmed that this principle includes the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The principle of non-discrimination underpins the ICCPR, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The EU calls on the Government of Malawi to fulfill its obligations under international human rights law, and to demonstrate its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights of all individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, including by reviewing its laws in order to decriminalise homosexuality and prohibit discrimination on any grounds and thereby bringing national legislation into line with Malawi's international commitments.

In this context, the EU expresses its serious concern with regard to the case of Tiwonge Chimbalanga Kachepa and Steven Monjeza Soko, who, on 20 May, were given the maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment for gross indecency and unnatural a Malawi Court, on the basis of their sexual orientation. The EU considers the measures taken to be against international human rights obligations.

The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

view original source

*/emphasis mine/*

Monday, 17 May 2010

PINK & friends make history in Armenia by marking IDAHO and turning Yerevan sky rainbow

May is truly a historic month for Armenians. Starting this year, it will become even double-triple historic for LGBT Armenians, their friends...

On 4 May, there was a groundbreaking presentation in Yerevan of the landmark report on discrimination towards LGBT people and state with their human rights in Armenia conducted within the framework of “We and Our Rights” project by PINK Armenia.

Today, on 17 May, for the first time ever, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) was celebrated in Armenia. PINK Armenia & friends organised a flashmob with balloons in the heart of Yerevan. "We let the colorful balloons fly in the sky as a symbolic move to combat hate, ignorance and intolerance, to combat homophobia and transphobia," say organisers.

PINK Armenia & friends made history today by turning Yerevan sky rainbow. For me, they are the modern day heroes in Armenia. Their spirit, passion, determination make me hopeful that after all there is bright future for Armenia. They are the PERSONS.AM (in capital letters). I hope their spirit won't be broken... EVER!!!

*video and pictures - by PINK Armenia

Breaking news: Gay marriages are now legal in Portugal!!

Fantastic news from Portugal, right for the occasion, on the day when the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia is being celebrated worldwide.

Portugal's president ratifies gay marriage law

(AP) – 59 minutes ago

LISBON, Portugal — Portugal's conservative president says he has decided to ratify a law allowing gay marriage in the predominantly Catholic country.

The head of state's decision to permit the enactment of a bill passed by Parliament in January makes Portugal the sixth European country allowing same-sex couples to wed.

President Anibal Cavaco Silva announced his decision Monday.

The Socialist government's bill was backed by all of Portugal's left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties opposed the measure and demanded a national referendum.

Portugal's Constitutional Court validated the bill's legality last month.

Armenia aligns with the EU statement on International Day Against Homophobia

Armenia is the only country in the region to align with the EU statement. I certainly welcome this evidence of consistent progressive position - along with previous statements and declarations - in Armenia's foreign policy direction in supporting such important human rights statements. Now what I want to see is full implementation of our country's international commitments on LGBT rights and equality. From words and statements to actions, please.

*via Eurasia Review

Declaration by the High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the European Union on the International Day Against Homophobia, 17 May 2010

In the context of the International Day Against Homophobia, I, on behalf of the European Union, reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. My own deeply held personal commitment to the equality and social justice agenda, in particular in the field of gay rights, goes back many years.

The European Union rejects and condemns any manifestation of homophobia as this phenomenon is a blatant violation of human dignity. It considers that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is incompatible with the basic principles on which the EU is founded, and it is and will remain committed to the prevention and eradication of discrimination based on the six grounds mentioned in Articles 10 and 19 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which include sexual orientation.

The European Union recalls that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is also prohibited by international human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Articles 2, 16 and 17), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 2) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 2), to which all EU Member States are party.

The European Union is deeply concerned by the violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of death penalty on this ground, the practice of torture or other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention, denying the right to peaceful assembly and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health.

This forms an integral part of the EU common foreign and security policy where several measures have been taken, specifically, the creation of a Taskforce on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People's (LGBT) rights within the Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) and the upcoming adoption by the latter of a EU Toolkit on LGBT rights.

The European Union urges States to take all necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation and gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties and that such human rights violations are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice.

The European Union urges States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity.

The European Union recalls in this context, that 67 States from different regions condemned violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the General Assembly Statement on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity of 18 December 2008. The European Union welcomes the ever increasing support to these principles in the world and urges States to continue in the promotion of these principles, as outlined in the World Congress on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity on 15 of March, 2009.

The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Armenia align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

*/emphasis mine/*

Armenia: International AIDS Candlelight event in pictures

Amazing pictures from the International AIDS Candlelight event which took place on 16 May in Yerevan.

*pictures - via Mamikon Hovsepyan and FB events page

Sunday, 16 May 2010

London kiss-in and hug-in against homophobia

The London kiss-in and hug-in against homophobia (FB event page) was part of the Great Global Kiss-in, initiated by the Committee for the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHO) and It took place in front of the parliament building - Old Palace Yard, Westminster.

I was there from around 3pm to 4 pm, and made my moderate contribution, especially with hugs :)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Rainbow flashmob

IDAHO Armenia - 17 May: Rainbow balloons will fly over Yerevan as a symbolic move to combat homophobia and transphobia

*video via rainbowflash

IDAHO Armenia - 17 May: Rainbow balloons will fly over Yerevan as a symbolic move to combat homophobia and transphobia

On 17 May 2010 (IDAHO - International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, their parents and children, friends and peers in many cities around the world will let the colorful balloons fly in the sky as a symbolic move to combat homophobia.
For the first time ever, this year PINK Armenia joined the international RainbowFlash event, with the support of volunteers and friends we will organise a flashmob with balloons. Colorful balloons will fly in the sky as a symbolic move to combat hate, ignorance and intolerance, to combat homophobia and transphobia.


Lesbian Iranian filmmaker denied asylum in the UK, faces deportation in Iran and possible death

*Digital Journal

Kiana Firouz, a young up-and-coming lesbian actress, filmmaker and gay activist from Iran now living in the UK as a refugee, was recently denied asylum there. If she is forced to return, she will face the most brutal of punishments, perhaps even death. [...]

In most blackly ironic fashion, Ms. Firouz's big screen debut in the documentary Cul de Sac will premiere in London in a few days. Cul de Sac is based in great part on Ms. Firouz's own life story as a lesbian in Iran, and of all the difficulties she faced. The trailer for Cul de Sac on YouTube has already attracted a great deal of media attention, given Ms. Firouz's precarious situation. It also appears to have attracted the attention of the Islamist authorities in Iran as well, who will now be keeping a very keen eye out for Ms. Firouz's homecoming in Tehran as her plane lands at Khomeini Airport. I think we can all picture how that story would end. [...]


Kiana Firouz is a 27-year-old Iranian filmmaker, actress, and LBGT rights activist. Her film, Cul de Sac will premiere in London in a few days. Firouz might not be able to see it.

The trailer for the film (NSFW), which features Firouz in a starring role and is heavily based on her life, was posted on YouTube in 2009. Even from the trailer, it is clear that this is not something the Iranian government would enjoy. It shows Firouz in several explicit sex scenes, and features Firouz discussing her views on human rights in Iran. [...]

On the other side of the Atlantic, filmmaker Ishita Srivastava has also set out to raise awareness about LGBT rights. Her new documentary Desigirls! is about South Asian lesbians living in America. Although they don't face the same imminent risks as Firouz, they, too, are pushed aside and made invisible by a lack of representation in popular culture and media. Trailer below.

Elton John... Like A Virgin ;)

Hilarious performance by Elton John of Madonna's classics Material Girl and Like A Virgin, surrounded by (almost) naked dancers of Bad Boys of Dance contemporary ballet group.

London's Evening Standard: "Elton John and Lady Gaga stole the show at a charity concert in New York's Carnegie Hall".

*video via Towleroad

Friday, 14 May 2010

Google Translate Armenian dictionary kind of sucks… for now

So today’s main news is that Armenian language is now supported by Google Translate. Great news, of course. Or so it should be. I understand that it’s in ‘ALPHA’, meaning in early development stages. BUT… Who on earth is behind the Armenian dictionary for Google Translate?

When you try translating the acceptable Armenian word to refer to gays - “միասեռական”, it brings the right English equivalent - “gay”. That’s fine. They also translate “bisexual” as “երկսեռ”, which could be OK too, I suppose.

However… I tried translating “gay” (English to Armenian), and according to the ‘dictionary’ behind the Google Translate service, “gay” means “թեթեվաբարո” (‘immoral’ or something like that, a term in Armenian frequently used to refer to sex workers or those perceived as such). This is the main option. There is also a list of other ‘relevant’ options, including similar word “անառակ”. Interestingly, it only considers “gay” as an adjective.


1. անառակ

2. զվարթ

3. թեթեվաբարո

4. պայծառ

5. ուրախ

6. վառ

And if you try “թեթեվաբարո” in Armenian to Russian, you get it as “гей” - “gay” in Russian - too.

Is this a display of homophobia or blatant lack of knowledge of contemporary linguistics?

Funnily enough, for “lesbian” they have a Russian version of the word in Armenian “լեսբիանկա”. Btw, there is no Armenian equivalent of “transsexual” or “transgender” there, for now at least.

#LGBTArmenia: Compilation of live tweets from a historic LGBT rights event in Armenia (part 2)

As you know, on 4 May 2010 there was a groundbreaking presentation on LGBT rights by PINK Armenia in Yerevan. This was accompanied by an unprecedented for Armenian LGBT related event live tweeting from the venue.

Below, part 2, as tweeted by Lara Aharonian (@Lara_Aha). Tweets are presented in a chronological order (bottom to top)

For part 1 - here.

i expect more from the #Armenian people regarding this issue, because we know first hand what being opressed means says Alex S

Even though the #Armenian Church has a certain approach to #LGBT issues, they never state hate and discriminatory messages
most of the time victims of violence in the #LGBT community won't report to police from fear of blackmail

#violence against #LGBT people is an issue in #Armenia, psychological, physical and sometimes sexual

wow the ministry of social affairs has been working on gender equality and women's rights...when?where?

So Gay men should openly say about their sexual orientation to get an alternative military service? isn't this discriminatory in itself?

the mentally ill status will cause later other problems for gay men, for example will not be allowed to get driving license

in order to be exempt from military service, gay men pass a psychological official test and are categorized as mentally ill

Marina MArgaryan calls for a need to pass a law to change the sex status in passport for Trans people after change of gender

lawyer Nona Markaryan suggests an alternative military service for GBT until the reality/laws changes in #Armenia

Mika Danielyan, Helsinki Association doesn't agree that gay men should get exempted from military service, the problem is not there he says

Ministry of Justice representative suggesting to NGOs to present a draft law on the changes required in the legal field

#lgbt issues concerns everyone in society

representatives from Ministry of social affairs and ministry of justice of RA are present

and a couple of more internl. declarations were signed as well by #Armenia to stop #homophobic acts and fight #discrimination against #lgbt

UN Declaration on "sexual orientation and gender identity" was signed by Armenia in 2008

legal support needed from the state to ensure the protection of the rights of #LGBT people

Mamikon presenting the Legal Analysis of #LGBT issues in #Armenia

major awareness work should be done in the media, NGOs, educational institutions on tolerance and the rights of #lgbt people

respondents say that they encounter psychological problems and suicidal thoughts but they will rarely seek for help

in the workplace, mainly LGBT people will keep their gender identity and sexual orientation secret from fear of discrimination

police will sometimes ask for bribes from #lgbt people to not tell about their sexual orientation to their families

At the YErevan State University, they won't let students, grad or undergrads, to write their thesis on #lgbt issues

"some heterosexual men won't touch the same items that a gay man touches in the University or sit at the same chair "

discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace, could be forced to quit once their sexual orientation is known

LGBT people enter also in forced marriages in the #armenian society and divorce rate following that is quite high

in the family, most LGBT people keep their sexual orientation secret fearing #homophobic reactions from closed ones

cases of #rape and #homicide occurred in #Armenia against gay people

#lgbt women are more accepted than men

#lgbt community in #armenia want to see more awareness initiatives to counter stereotypes that discriminate against them

Marina Margaryan, sociologist from @pinkarmenia presenting the results of the report

@pinkarmenia also works with survivors of #violence in the #lgbt community in #Armenia

Mamikon Hovsepyan from @pinkarmenia will present about the organization's projects

it is hard to talk of these issues in the #armenian society but today we will try to engage in an open dialogue

Alex Sardar from #counterpartArm is doing the opening speech and calling for a dialogue and open discussion today on #lgbtarmenia

"we and our rights" at the @pinkarmenia forum/presentation of the report on #lgbt situation in #armenia

*picture - by PINK Armenia

#LGBTArmenia: Compilation of live tweets from a historic LGBT rights event in Armenia (part 1)

As you know, on 4 May 2010 there was a groundbreaking presentation on LGBT rights by PINK Armenia in Yerevan. This was accompanied by an unprecedented for Armenian LGBT related event live tweeting from the venue.

Below, part 1, as tweeted by Adrineh Macaan on behalf of @pinkarmenia. Tweets are presented in a chronological order (bottom to top)

For part 2 - here.

Thanks to @adrinehmacaan for translating the booklet, she was also taking care of @pinkarmenia tweets & updating

Thanks to @USIAD @CounterpartAm for support, special thanks to @alexsardar for assisting and moderating today's presentaion & discussion

Thanks to everybody who took part in "We and Our Rights" presentation

now we invite you to lunch, "We and Our Rights" presentation over

hopes that conversation continues especially with/among state bodies, says @AlexSardar

shouldn't matter what "minority" group we're speaking about, whether sexual, ethnic, religious etc says @AlexSardar

but that just means they censor themself & don't talk about LGBT issues on air because international agencies are "watching"

there was homophobic radio program which we were able to get off the air says @MamikonHovsepyan

would love to hear about positive experience and positive resolutions to issues says one participant

we have big example and resource in Armenia that we don’t use in order to fight stereotypes says @AlexSardar

church “principles” don’t come out against LGBT discrimination, why don’t we raise this as example? says @AlexSardar

Labor Ministry says this also cultural issue not just legal issue i.e. films, media, etc #LGBTArmenia thus must fight stereotypes

correction: Justice Ministry not Defense Ministry rep

agree that state has to oversee NGOs it approves and check if spreading discrimination and misinformation says Defense Ministry

LGBT primary turn to NGOs that support and work with LGBT community for help such as WRCA, Helsinki Association

but may not report to law enforcement bodies because of bribes and threat of "outing" LGBT victims

physical and sexual violence cases in military and public life says @MarinaMarkaryan

has your research revealed cases of violence against LGBT people? asks someone at "We and Our Rights"

there are NGOs who themselves spread misinformation and discriminate says @MamikonHovsepyan

NGOs should unite and show support and strength in LGBT issue says @Lara_Aha
if NGO working on women’s issues also working on lesbian issues, but often we’re not doing this work in NGOS says @Lara_Aha

@Lara_Aha from WRCA speaking on role of NGOs on LGBT rights and this sector

this is one of possible steps to allow minorities’ rights to be heard at state level @MarinaMarkaryan

strongly disagree with this “numbers game” says Daniel Yeghisyan

not that it’s too early to talk about LGBT issues, but it’s too late says @MikaelDanielyan

even if number is small, doesn’t mean LGBT rights shouldn’t be protected @MarinaMarkaryan

important to recognize this is first survey inside LGBT community @MarinaMarkaryan

just because public isn’t ready doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist says @AlexSardar

child & family rep doesn’t think public is ready for LGBT issues; citizens understand men, women, but not trans

@MamikonHovsepyan military service should be voluntary, this is ideal #LGBTArmenia @Mikael Danielyan agrees

how does it get decided who is LGBT and who is not? question at "We and Our Rights" presentation

Daniel Yeghisyan says RA Defense Ministry sees problem with BGT & military service, but how to solve it?

Nona Markaryan says lack of corresponding laws, need LGBT rights protection, in response to Mikael Danielyan

Mikael Danielyan, Helsinki Association not necessary to stress sexual orientation for military exemption, Jehovah’s Witnesses also exempt

Mikael Danielyan, Helsinki Association doesn’t agree with GBT men exempt from military service

Nona Markaryan lawyer says need for new law to recognize gender identity

“hamaseramol”, “tmramol” terms in Armenian discriminatory @MamikonHovsepyan

Kevork Manukyan asks for more info on sex workers situation

Kevork Manukyan, Ministry rep suggests NGOs cooperate with state bodies

recommend amendments in RA legislation to ensure that LGBT discrimination and hate prevented and LGBT rights protected

necessary to adopt law to recognize gender identity and prohibit all forms of LGBT discrimination

Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) resolution:

PACE resolution few days ago on LGBT rights, Armenian delegation voted against

Mar 31 Armenia signed Council of Europe Ministers Council to fight discrimination against LGBT people

Armenia signed UN LGBT declaration but not implemented into practice yet

Dec 2008 Armenia signed UN Declaration on protecting sexual orientation and gender identity

Discrimination specifically on basis of sexual orientation and gender identity ABSENT from RA legislation

according to Republic of Armenia (RA) Constitution Article 14 Section 1, all equal under the law, discrimination against sex etc prohibited

@MamikonHovsepyan speaking on human rights and all equal under the law

English version of booklet will be available on later today

complete research will be available on website

LGBT must come to terms with society in which they live, respect society’s current norms and rules, & conform: respondents

church doesn't accept LGBT, but no cases of discrimination and violence against LGBT by church, according to survey results

bisexual, gay men and transwomen need to get medical documentation to "prove" queer status to be exempt from military service

media in Armenia propagates LGBT stereotypes and spreads misinformation

LGBT can't fully disclose sexual history when seeking medical services, affects their health and may result in misdiagnosis

hetero men say they don't have contact with gay or bisexual male students in their university, according to survey

..., the more serious level of discrimination

more one’s external appearance or way s/he carries him/herself reveals his/her sexual orientation or gender identity...

LGBT Armenians mainly hide sexual orientation and gender identity from family, according to results of survey

According to respondents, there are cases of LGBT people in Armenia being raped and even murdered.

gay men more accepted than lesbian women according to respondents "We and Our Rights"

discrimination toward LGBT people begins from family ex. by kicking them out of the house, breaking off contact

LGBT respondents don't differentiate their rights from that of others according to survey #LGBTArmenia, want acceptance

@MarinaMarkaryan of @pinkarmenia presenting on "We and Our Rights" research

"We and Our Rights" sociological research and legal analysis on LGBT situation in #Armenia conducted by @PINKArmenia

@MamikonHovsepyan presenting on @pinkarmenia's activities

@AlexSardar from @Counterpart International Armenia representation speaking

#LGBTArmenia is hashtag for PINK #Armenia "We and Our Rights" presentation on LGBT rights starting soon

today: "We and Our Rights" presentation, 11am +4GMT follow on twittter & skype (pinkarmenia)

*pictures - by PINK Armenia

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Marking International AIDS Candlelight Memorial in Armenia

The International AIDS Candlelight Memorial, a program of the Global Health Council, was the first public event for AIDS awareness (1983) and one of today’s largest grassroots movements against the disease, spreading hope, developing leaders, and uniting communities | read more

Date: Sunday, 16 May 2010
Time: 18:30 - 19:30
Location: Cascade, Yerevan, Armenia


Հին ընկերները կրկին միանում եմ վառելու իրենց մոմերը ՁԻԱՀ-ից մահացածների հիշատակին:

«Դրական Մարդկանց Հայկական Ցանցը», «Իրական Աշխարհ Իրական Մարդիկ» «Հանրային Տեղեկատվություն և Գիտելիքի Կարիք» ՀԿ-ի հետ միասին հրավիրում են Ձեզ մասնակցելու «Լույսեր անհամար, մարդու իրավունքների համար» միջոցառմանը:

18:30 Քվիլթ
19:00 Կարմիր ֆլեշմոբ
19:10 Մոմավառություն

Ցանկալի է կրել կարմիր հագուստ:

Old friends are again getting together to light their candles for those people who passed away from AIDS.
Positive People Armenian Network, Real World Real People with Public Information and Need of Knowledge NGO are inviting all of you to take part in our event "Many Lights for Human Rights".

18:30 Quilt
19:00 Red Flashmob
19:10 Candlelight

We kindly ask you to be in red.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New issue of Georgian LGBT magazine “Me” highlights transgender rights and focuses on recent homophobic outbursts

“With the upcoming elections in spring 2010 homophobic sentiments obivously strengthen in Georgia. We have seen number of TV plots and articles that are to terorize LGBT community and contribute to its even greater stigmatization. We have witnessed these tendencies in parallel to ever increased visibility of the community.” - says the editorial.

You may read new 13th issue of Me magazine here.

EU foreign minister gay rights champion Baroness Ashton to launch negotiations on associated agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

In 2006, Baroness Catherine Ashton was voted Politician of the Year by Britain’s prominent gay rights group Stonewall for championing equality and human rights.
During her time as leader of the House of Lords between 2007 and 2008, Ashton was a vocal supporter of gay rights and guided some key pieces of legislation through the upper chamber. [...]

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "Stonewall is delighted at Cathy Ashton’s appointment. Cathy won the Politician of the Year award at the first Stonewall Awards in 2006. She was recognised for her work in making it illegal to discriminate against gay people when providing goods, facilities and services."
Commenting before her appointment as EU foreign minister, Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights, noted: “When it comes to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, I’m under the impression that Catherine Ashton is very willing to listen to both people and organisations in the countries she’ll visit.” Ms Lunacek continued: “Be it through quiet diplomacy or in public, she is clearly willing to talk about it. If the European Parliament approves her along with the other Commissioners later this month, she will be an asset to the global movement on LGBT rights”.

Here is hoping that during negotiations with the South Caucasus countries, Baroness Ashton will champion human rights, including gay rights and equality, as necessary preconditions for developing ties and integration with the EU. This is also an opportunity for local gay rights groups to raise the issues on the highest European level.

Baroness Ashton’s site at the European Commission

Wikipedia page

BBC Profile

EUROPEAN UNION Brussels, 11 May 2010

Statement by High Representative Catherine Ashton on the adoption of negotiating directives for Association Agreements between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, made today the following statement:

“I welcome the adoption by the General Affairs Council on 10 May of the negotiating directives for the future Association Agreements between the EU and Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.

The adoption of these negotiating directives is a clear sign of our strong commitment to further deepen the relationship between the EU and the countries of the South Caucasus, on the basis of shared values and principles, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.

The Eastern Partnership, launched at the Prague Summit on 7 May 2009, provides an ambitious framework for taking the relationship with the countries of the South Caucasus to a new level. In this context, Association Agreements are an important instrument to upgrade our relations beyond existing commitments with a view of political association and gradual economic integration with the EU.

The negotiation process will be guided by the principles of inclusiveness and differentiation, as well as joint ownership. Successful implementation of the Eastern Partnership with the active engagement of the partner countries both in its multilateral and bilateral track will strengthen relations on the basis of shared values and will help advancing political and economic reforms, consolidate governance and foster regional stability, prosperity and confidence building.

I look forward to the launch of negotiations on these ambitious and comprehensive agreements with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia."

*picture - via BBC

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Eva Rivas performs at gay party Pink Nation Exclusive in Antwerp, Belgium (Eurovision 2010)

Eva looks great, good performance, and she feels the stage much better now. Btw, I like her haircut. It suits her.

Go Eva!

Pink Nation Exclusive took place on 30 April in Antwerp, Belgium with the participation of various 2010 Eurovision performers, including Armenia's Eva Rivas.


Being Gay and Armenian: The Stigma (IANYAN)

This is the first in a series of articles to appear on IANYAN re what it means to be gay and Armenian.

Well done, Liana. The author and the IANYAN should serve an example for others in Armenian media, online and offline.

Selected quotes:

"This wasn’t the first time Armenian attitudes towards homosexuality had clashed. During the yearly Armenian fund raising telethon, GALAS presented a check to organizers and in turn, received hate messages in the form of voice mails and emails, with one alleging that they take Ararat off the GALAS logo."

"Although Armenian attitudes towards homosexuality have softened in recent years (Armenia signed a United Nations declaration in 2008 condemning discrimination and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Armenians still face discrimination, which sometimes resorts to abuse and violence."

“Homophobia is rampant and deeply entrenched in our culture both in the Diaspora and also in Armenia - and there is not enough attention paid to the development of greater tolerance in Armenian society,” said Jirair Ratevosian, who works on domestic and global AIDS-related policy in Washington D.C. as deputy director of policy at amFAR, the Foundation for Aids Research.

*read the article in full here.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Important!! Your submissions for Unzipped: Gay Armenia LIST 2010

Dear readers,

Two years ago, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO - 17 May), I launched Unzipped: Gay Armenia LIST 2008.
This LIST recognises individuals, organisations, media, blogs, events and other contributors(tions) to gay rights and equality in Armenia and Diaspora. It also 'names' main homophobic occurrences over the past year, to evolve eventually into Armenian version of Homophobia Hall of Shame. [As you know, Armenia Homophobia Hall of Shame is already live.]
I did not manage to post 2009 version of the LIST last year due to busy schedule around that time. However, I aim to rectify this and post a 2010 LIST which will now incorporate and reflect events and individuals over the past two years: from 17 May 2008 to 17 May 2010 inclusive.

LIST 2008 was compiled solely by myself. From 2010 onwards, I do want to incorporate your suggestions and submissions too.

Dear readers, please have a look at Unzipped: Gay Armenia LIST 2008, and make your submissions for any or each of the listed categories.

Your submissions should cover two years: 17 May 2008 to 17 May 2010.

You are welcome to suggest new categories too. Please, suggest a new category only if you have something or someone to nominate for, as I want to make this LIST a very practical one.

To assist in your selections, you may use archives of my blog covering the relevant time period (available on the right hand side of this blog). You may also use your own or other sources.

While making submissions, along with the category, please indicate name(s) or event(s) and a relevant link. If for any reason, no link is available to prove your nomination, please provide a more detailed description on the reasons of your nomination.

Please, submit your nomination(s) via email only. (my email address is available on the upper right hand side of this blog)

Many thanks in advance for your input.

Deadline for nominations - 15 May 2010.

Spotted in Covent Garden, London


Rainbow elephant, London

I posted about the Elephant parade in London on Unzipped. Today i spotted more elephants, very cute ones. Below are few of the pics.

Covent Garden

Soho Square

Covent Garden

*see also:

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Orange Armenia - rainbow ad campaign

I like this new ad by Orange Armenia. It’s all about rainbow (= peace, diversity, inclusive society...), and you know, WE like rainbow, so I guess it’s about all of us too ;)

Thanks to Transgenders in Armenia for this video clip (unfortunately, no sound for technical reasons). As the blog pointed out in an earlier post, “every time watching this new ad by Orange, it looks as if LGBT movement started in Armenia” :)
Amen angam Orangi nor govazdy najeluc, inc tvum a LGBT sharjum a sksvel HH-um :)
Good job, Orange!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

"Holy Crap": Religious fundamentalists and neo-nazi groups in Tbilisi attack free speech advocates

Dramatic developments in Tbilisi escalated over night into a fistfight between religious fundamentalists & neo-nazi groups and free speech advocates.

Below are extracts of reports coming out from Georgia with videos of the incident.
Fundamentalists start punch up at TV station
Georgian International Media Centre

A debate between supporters of free speech and religious fundamentalists seeking to ban the publication of a controversial book - said to insult the church and promote homosexuality - degenerated into a punch up after the fundamentalists turned to violence, reports [see below]

Controversy over the book "Saidumlo Siroba" - the name is a play on the Georgian for "Last Supper" and could be translated as "Holy Crap" - has been rumbling on at Tbilisi State Univeristy all week and last night Kavkasia TV, a cable station in Tbilisi known for its willingness to discuss controversial issues around the church, attempted to hold a discussion between advocates of the book's banning and free speech campaigners and university staff. [...]

Radical Orthodox Christian Group Stirs Fistfight in TV Station
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 8 May.'10 / 03:56

Live televised debates in Kavkasia TV's studio between leaders of hardline Orthodox Christian groups and thier opponents grew into a fistfight outside the Tbilisi-based station's studio late on Friday night.

Young men affiliated with radical group, known as Union of Orthodox Christian Parents, which has became associated with a newly established People's Orthodox Christian Movement, verbally and physically assaulted some of Kavkasia TV program's guests and also some members of the station's staff, witnesses said.

Kavkasia TV's talk show, Barieri (Barrier), hosted by Nino Jangirashvili, featured several invited guests and an audience in in the studio. Among the guests were Malkhaz Gulashvili, owner of the Georgian Times media holding and a co-founder of People's Orthodox Christian Movement; Nana Devdariani, a former public defender and chairperson of Central Election Commission during Eduard Shevardnadze's presidency and Levan Chachua, a member of Union of Orthodox Christian Parents. Thier opponents during the debates were professor Sergo Ratiani, head of Ilia State University's administration; Teo Khatiashvili, a film critic and Beka Mindiashvili, a religious rights activist.

Topic of the debate was developments of recent days related to series of confrontations between young followers of radical Orthodox groups and thier critics, who consider newly established People's Orthodox Christian Movement as "a fascist" organization. May 7 also saw a confrontation between the two groups.

In the beginning of the program, the host expressed hope that the debates would have been "vibrant, but much calmer and more constructive than they have been in recent days."

But from the very start debates took an ugly turn. Gulashvili told the opponents for couple of times: "Your are not liberals; you are liberasts."

He used a term which apparantly is a wordplay of liberals and pederasts; the latter is used in Georgia as a derogative form for gays.

Beka Mindiashvili told Gulashvili that it was up to police to deal with the activists of his organization, because of the May 4 attack on peaceful demonstrators.

About an hour after the start of the program, Beka Mindiashvili said there was no reason to continue discussion with his opponents and left the studio, followed by Teo Khatiashvili and then by Sergo Ratiani.

Shortly after that the program was interrupted for a commercial break; it resumed about 20 minutes later - much longer than it takes for commercial break on Kavkasia TV.

When the program resumed, the host announced that after several guest of the program left the studio, before the commercial break, representatives of Union of Orthodox Christian Parents, outside the studio, started to verbally insult them, "trying to provoke them". She said it grew into fistfight in which several TV staff members were also physically assaulted. Kavkasia TV's founder, Davit Akubardia, was also attacked.

Scuffle reoccurred again shortly after that announcement by the talk show host and she called on the police "to immediately come and curb this". Several minutes later, several members from Union of Orthodox Christian Parents, including several priest, entered into the studio telling the program host that it was "a provocation staged by you". Police also arrived in the studio . It was reported later that at least three men were arrested; some reports said that four men were detained.

The program resumed few minutes later with some opposition politicians arriving in the Kavkasia TV studio condemning the incident. General Director of Georgian Public Broadcaster, Gia Chanturia, accompanied by GPB's boar chairman Levan Gakheladze also arrived "to express solidarity" towards the Kavkasia TV.

Some opposition politicians in the studio, including Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party, part of the Alliance for Georgia, said that she thought the hardline Orthodox Christian groups were given free hand by the authorities.

"They would not have dared to do things like this without having support of the authorities," Khidasheli said and added that it was in the authorities interests to provoke this kind of incidents in order to redirect attention from upcoming local elections.

Malkhaz Gulashvili, who founded People's Orthodox Christian Movement, in March, 2010, told the movement members at an indoor gathering on May 7, that the movement was launching struggle "to set Georgia free of a dictate by Liberty Institute" - an influential Tbilisi-based think tank with links to the authorities. Gulashvili said Liberty Institute and its affiliates in Ilia State University's administration were "promoting anti-religious ideology."

Gulashvili in the past was a business partner with the Georgian Industrial Group (GIG), a conglomerate owned by lawmaker from the ruling party, Davit Bezhuashvili - a brother of Gela Bezhuashvili, chief of the Georgian intelligence service. Gulashvili and GIG were partners through holding shares in business news agency, Georgian Business Consulting. GIG also owns shares in Rustavi 2; Mze and Pirveli Sterao TV stations. Gulashvili, however, said recently that he no longer had any business or other type of links with Bezhuashvili.
Noted Georgian dissidents Anna Dolidze and Irakli Kakabadze have issued a strongly worded statement against those seeking to ban the controversial book "Saidumlo Siroba" ('Holy Crap')
Members of neo-Nazi groups who continue to publicly perpetrate acts of violence and attacks against activists for freedom of expression should be swiftly brought to justice. The fact that the Georgian police and Prosecutor’s Office put a blind eye as Georgian neo-Nazi groups continue to attack and harass journalists and activists amounts to their support to increased violence perpetrated by these groups. [...]