I'd like to start my first post of 2016 with a positive note.
When The Guardian asked via Twitter to nominate LGBT heroes ["Who are your LGBT heroes? Tell us about the activists bringing change"], I had no doubts whatsoever who I will be nominating.
My LGBT heroes are people at PINK Armenia. First and foremost I relate this to the staff of PINK Armenia, but also their - and mine - friends and allies.
Below is what I posted on The Guardian:
My LGBT heroes are people at PINK Armenia.
I’d like to add just few more examples to already made nomination of PINK Armenia to illustrate why I consider them my LGBT heroes.
Regarding their latest achievements, a particular praise goes to holding of groundbreaking Rainbow Armenia forum (October 2015), the first such LGBT gathering in Armenia with the aim to empower the movement.
What I find particularly encouraging and worth pointing out, they work very closely with other members of civil society in Armenia towards global human rights issues in the country and beyond. In fact, they became one of the most active and respected groups in Armenia. Along with LGBT related actions, they are very vocal and active regarding much broader issues ranging from social (such as electricity price hike) to environmental (protecting green spaces), democracy (election monitoring), domestic violence and women's rights.
PINK Armenia continues to defy status quo and challenge relevant state bodies regarding their commitment for LGBT rights and against discrimination. It was the first time I could recall that Armenia president’s administration replied to LGBT rights related formal query raised by PINK Armenia (July 2015).
Along with annual LGBT rights reports (annual reviews on human rights situation of LGBT people in Armenia), they conduct or commission important LGBT-themed surveys/research. Their latest research on “The impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia” (2015) was highly publicised and discussed in various forums.
PINK Armenia stage regular film screenings, art related events, video or flashmob to highlight LGBT related discrimination and homophobia.
In December 2014, (IN)2VALUABLE exhibition took place based on submissions for the photo contest of the same name organised by PINK Armenia, aimed at drawing attention to the problems of discrimination and intolerance in our society, with the entries reflecting concepts of tolerance and anti-discrimination.
“I am against homophobia” video series, involving Armenian and Ukrainian activists, as well as videos tackling anti-LGBT bullying in cooperation with other allies were among widely distributed in Armenian social and other media.
I can go on and on with more and more examples of breaking taboos and tackling homophobia, human rights abuses in Armenia by this brave and great bunch of people who work in a very challenging environment of prevalent homophobia in Armenia. It’s PINK Armenia and friends who keep my hope alive that one day Armenia will change its homophobic routine and become a country where individual freedom and equality will prevail.