"The Armenians and Progressive Politics" conference focusing on Armenia at 21 (referring to the 21th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union) will be held at Columbia University on 28-29 September 2012. [http://www.armeniansandtheleft.com]
For the first time, head of PINK Armenia Mamikon Hovsepyan will participate in the conferences to talk about "LGBT Rights in Armenia – Silenced Reality." He will be on the "Emergence of Social Movements, NGOs, and the Rise of a New Identity Politics" panel. The following is the abstract of his talk (via Armenians and Progressive Politics FB page):
In the shadow of societal and institutional discrimination, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Armenia face tremendous struggles in achieving equality, both at the personal and organizational levels. Although the Armenian government has signed and ratified most of the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE covenants, treaties, and other instruments, including a partnership and cooperation agreement with the European Union, in practice, those commitments have not been met with regard to human rights pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity.
In Armenia, homophobia is widespread and deeply ingrained in society. Visibility of the LGBT community is limited. Individuals face discrimination and human rights violations in virtually all spheres of society due to their sexual orientation and gender identity. Most seriously, LGBT individuals can be bullied in educational institutions or become victims of psychological and physical abuse while serving in the Armenian army.
Hate crimes and their promotion are supported by the majority of society and politicians, under the pretext of “patriotism” and “Christianity.” As a result, extremist groups of young people and their sponsors have deliberately spread misinformation to disrupt Armenia’s diversity march, considering it a gay parade, and have subjected its participants to violence. This spring, a fascistic group bombed a bar patronized by supporters of diversity and multiculturalism. This talk will examine these profound challenges faced by Armenia’s LGBT community.