Thursday, 5 November 2015

US Ambassador and UN office in Armenia in solidarity with LGBT activists amid homophobic hysteria and threats following groundbreaking Rainbow forum

A group of homophobic Putin fans in Armenia announced their plan to stage a protest action on 6 November against US Ambassador’s statement in front of... the EU office in Yerevan. These guys certainly need a geography lesson. Along with many other lessons, of course. Well, at least one of them was recently outed on Facebook as a closeted gay. Some revealing Skype chat screenshots were in circulation in what perhaps the first such exposé in Armenia.

But lets forget about these people, they were mentioned here for entertainment purposes only.

Back to the important matters. Great move and statement by the US ambassador in Armenia. Respects.

[more about groundbreaking Rainbow Armenia Forum: here; more about threats received: here. Unzipped: Gay Armenia will make a separate post on Rainbow Forum.]

*picture - via PINK Armenia

*via US Embassy in Armenia

US Ambassador Meets with PINK NGO Representatives, Expresses Concern about Threats of Violence Issued against Them

U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr., visited the offices of the Public Information and Need of Knowledge (PINK) NGO on Thursday, October 29, 2015.

The group briefed the Ambassador on their recent Rainbow Forum, a gathering organized by PINK earlier this month in Lori, which focused on ways to protect the basic human rights of the members of the Armenian LGBT community.

During his visit, PINK representatives described to Ambassador Mills the very real and extreme threats they’ve received since the forum took place, including death threats made against several of its members. The group recently submitted a formal complaint about the threats to the Armenian Prosecutor General.

The U.S. Embassy is deeply troubled by these threats, and condemns in the strongest possible terms such calls for violence. The U.S. Embassy expects the Armenian authorities to fully investigate these threats and protect the basic human rights of the group’s members and all LGBT residents and minority communities in Armenia.

“I have been in Armenia long enough, and spoken to enough Armenians throughout the country, to know that violence and hatred are not part of Armenian society and values.  I urge Armenians to reject these calls to violence.  Those who would espouse such strong hatred of people simply for being different do not adhere to Armenian values as I have seen them,” Ambassador Mills said.
And another important statement by UN office in Armenia:

The United Nations in Armenia is concerned about the recent manifestations of aggressive homophobia and threats of violence against LGBTI activists particularly in social media, following a recent meeting held by activists.

The threat of violence against any group cannot be tolerated, and all persons should be allowed freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and not be subject to discrimination and intimidation.

We call upon the authorities to investigate and prosecute incidents of harassment and abuse against the LGBTI community, to discourage all hate speech, and to take measures to foster tolerance.

Through its international obligations Armenia has made laudable commitments to non-discrimination and tolerance, and the respect of human rights, including those of the ethnic, religious and sexual minorities.

The United Nations stands ready to support Armenia in these commitments. See also the recent global call of the UN for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons.
More international reaction, this time as a statement of concern by Frontline Defenders human rights group:

LGBTI rights defenders and participants in the first Armenian LGBTI forum have been exposed to ongoing harassment and personal threats since the publication of an article about the forum and its participants on 20 October 2015. […]

Front Line Defenders expresses its concern over the harassment against members of PINK Armenia and other LGBTI forum participants, and the personal death threats they are facing on social media and in person, and believes these acts to be an attempt to prevent LGBTI rights defenders from carrying out their peaceful and legitimate advocacy in defence of human rights.

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