Friday 29 June 2007

'Cut The Crap' gay-themed TV ad by Absolut

Although one-year old, I learnt about Cut The Crap ad campaign by Absolut vodka today from This gay-themed ad is part of a series of Cut The Crap clips to promote Absolut Cut vodka. It's just hilarious! I loved it. Other ads from the series include "Birthday", "Office" and "Valentine", available on company website.

"Gay" movie clip description

A mother and son are having a discussion in the kitchen about what's going on in each other's lives. The actual verbal exchange between them is stilted and artificial, with each of them playing the other's game.

Captions appear on the screen to clarify what the two are really saying.

The mother asks, "So... How's your love life?" and the caption beneath reads, "So... Do you like boys or girls?"

The son responds, "Great. I'm dating a flight attendant. She's blonde." The caption says, "Great. I'm sleeping with a gogo dancer. He's built."

With reservation, mom says, "Oh that's wonderful honey." According to the text on the screen, she means, "So, it's a boyfriend."

Mom continues: "When do we get to meet her?" but the caption reads, "Dad is going to love this."

The son tells her that his made-up girlfriend "travels a lot," but he means "Not in a million years."

In a passive attempt to get the last inner-laugh, the son asks, "What about you? How's your backache?" But the text reveals what he wants to be inferred by his question: "What about you? Still sleeping with your chiropractor?"

The mother looks pensive and gives a reserved smile, knowing her secret's "out" as well.

*Text description via jazzto, video via mitchells00

Gay-themed advertisements
Absolut was one of the first consumer brands to openly embrace the gay community and view its members as important and desirable consumers of its product. Its ads have appeared in the gay market for over 30 years, and the company has long sponsored major gay events, including the 2000 fall line of Tom of Finland clothing. In one such ad, a film lupe and film canisters are stacked to form the distinctive shape of the Absolut bottle. The canisters are labeled with the titles of gay films, including "Stonewall," "Boys Life," "Nitrate Kisses," "Show Me Love," and others. The caption reads “Absolut Achievement.” The ad appeared in gay film festivals sponsored by the brand.
Absolut Vodka has also been the official corporate sponsor of the GLAAD Media Awards [The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation] for many years.


Tuesday 26 June 2007

LGBT Activists from post-Soviet States Gain Skills in Advocacy

On 20-24 May ILGA-Europe has organized a training on documenting human rights violations, planning advocacy campaigns and lobbying European institutions for a group of LGBT activists from Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Kyrgyzstan. The training took place on the shore of a picturesque Issyk-Kuli lake in Kyrgyzstan, and facilitated by experienced trainers from Russia, Ireland and ILGA-Europe’s staff team itself. The host organization was NGO “Labrys” (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan).

The participants gained skills in documenting human rights violations through personal interviews and by using specialized computer programs, in lobbying the European Union, Council of Europe, United Nations and the OSCE, in planning and implementing advocacy campaigns. The training lasted for a total of 5 days, the days filled with work, and evenings – with long dinners, karaoke nights and deep conversations around the fire on the beach.

The training is part of a large-scale 5-year program on development of the LGBT movement in the post-Soviet states “Prevention and Empowerment in the CIS [the Commonwealth of the Independent States]” (PRECIS), implemented by COC Netherlands with support of the Dutch Government and in cooperation with ILGA-Europe.

by Maxim Anmeghichean, Programmes Director, ILGA-Europe (June 2007 Euro-letter)

Monday 25 June 2007

UNHCR Review of Gay Rights in Armenia (2003-2005)

Armenia: The situation of homosexuals and lesbians; public perception of gays and lesbians; availability of state protection and whether there exist state programs to promote the respect of their human rights (January 2003 - December 2005)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officially published in its website the above review. It was originally conducted by Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada as ‘Responses to Information Requests’ (RIRs) and published in Ottawa on 19 January 2006.

Background info from Agency’s website:
RIRs respond to focused queries or Requests for Information that are submitted to the Research Directorate in the course of the refugee protection determination process.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Personal Notes:
It should be noted that this review reflects 2003-2005 years. Since then, some positive changes occurred in Armenia. Particularly, gay or gay-friendly venues emerged in Armenian capital, Yerevan, which was unthinkable just a year or two ago. Also, the first LGBT NGO called Menk (“We For Civil Equality”) was founded and registered by Ministry of Justice in July 2006. It was referred in this review as not yet established “Self-Help Group”.

However, main issues raised in this review still exist and need urgent attention. There is still widespread homophobia in Armenian society and lack of legal protection of LGBT people whose human rights are violated. Gay men and lesbians are subjected to both verbal and physical homophobic abuse in everyday life and are ill-treated by law-enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, due to known reasons, these facts generally remain unreported and mainly based on anecdotal evidence. Moreover, as stated in this review, till now “Armenia[n] legislation does not contain a single provision on discrimination based on or due to sexual orientation”.

Today, speaking to RFE/RL (Radio Liberty), Avet Adonts, chairman of parliamentary committee to promote Armenia’s integration into European structures, stressed his group’s intention to “harmonize Armenia’s laws with those adopted by EU countries”. He rightly pointed out that “laws alone will not bring Armenia closer to Europe. “Public opinion in Armenia is not quite prepared for European integration,” he said. “Many think that it is being imposed on us. We have to explain, we have to work actively with non-governmental organizations.”

I hope Adonts, a career diplomat, understands that EU-like laws mean also equality and protection of human rights, including specific anti-discrimination laws to protect rights of minority groups, in this case, LGBT people. We’ve yet to hear from Armenian Ombudsman if/how he intends to incorporate gay rights into the agenda of Human Rights Defender of Republic of Armenia. European institutions, international bodies and local organisations, along with representatives of gay community, should keep these issues high in their agenda while dealing with Armenia’s European aspirations, which are my aspirations too.

Below is a copy of the UNHCR review (the full list of used or consulted references is available in Agency’s official website):

*Many thanks to M. M. for info about this publication!

Homosexual actions were decriminalized in 2003 when the Criminal Code was amended and the provision on homosexuality was repudiated (UN 2005; COE 12 Jan. 2004, 33; AGLA 1 Dec. 2005; ILGA Europe 20 Oct. 2005; ILGA 17 July 2005; Helsinki Committee of Armenia 2004, 26; Internews n.d.; Sodomy Laws 9 Jan. 2003). This was done once the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe imposed decriminalization of homosexuality as a condition for Armenia to become a member of the Council of Europe (COE 28 June 2000; ILGA Aug. 2000; Sodomy Laws n.d.; Armenian Law Review 26 July 2004; AGLA 3 Oct. 2004). The new Criminal Code was adopted on 18 April 2003 (UN 2005; ILGA n.d.; Internews n.d.) and came into force on 1 August 2003 (ibid.; ILGA n.d.; ibid. 17 July 2005).

However, gays and lesbians still face problems in Armenia (AGLA 22 Apr. 2005; ibid. 3 Oct. 2004; ibid. 5 Oct. 2004; Helsinki Committee of Armenia 2004; UN 2005; Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Secs. 1.c, 5; Armenian Law Review 26 July 2004; COE 12 Jan. 2004; IWPR 21 Apr. 2004; ArmeniaNow 10 Jan. 2003). The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reports that "[i]t is noteworthy that public opinions on homosexuality are rather tough: traditional Armenian society rejects displays of non-heterosexual relations" and

... according to data provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (also referred to as 'the Police of the RA'), there were 21 'registered' male homosexuals. It is thus not surprising that information related to MSM [Men who have Sex with Men] is rather limited, reflecting the traditionally negative attitude of society towards homosexuality (2005).

Country Reports 2004 reported that "[h]omosexuals ... also reported that they were singled out for hazing by officers and other conscripts" (28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 1.c) and "[m]ilitary officers targeted homosexuals for hazing. The Helsinki Association reported cases of police harassment of homosexuals through blackmail, extortion, and, on occasion, violence" (Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, Sec. 5).

According to an article in the Armenian Law Review, "[e]ven though the law on homosexuals has been abolished, homosexuals did not receive the 'legal' recognition by society and the church; they still remain 'criminals' (not by law) or immoral, sick people" (26 July 2004). The Armenian Law Review also indicates that the fact that homosexuality has been decriminalized does not change the public perception nor does it put an end to violation of human rights based on sexual orientation (Armenian Law Review 26 July 2004).

In its annual report on human rights for 2004, the Helsinki Committee of Armenia (HCA) states "[T]he Republic of Armenia legislation does not contain a single provision on discrimination based on or due to sexual orientation. However, society refuses to acknowledge such individuals and exerts social pressure on them" (2004, Para. 25). The HCA also reports "the Criminal Code now contains provisions that aggravate crimes perpetrated on the basis of the victim's sexual orientation. However, police officers continue to persecute homosexuals" (HCA 2004, Para. 25). No information corroborating the HCA's statements could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

According to an article on the Institute for War & Peace Reporting's (IWPR's) Website, members of the homosexual community in Yerevan were trying to establish Armenia's first homosexual support group (21 Apr. 2004). It was to be called the "Self-Help Group"; however, the article stated that it had not been founded as an official organization (IWPR 21 Apr. 2004). No information could be found as to whether such a group currently exists. The source also reported that homosexuals were threatened because of their sexual orientation and that "[f]ew gays ever report offences against them to the police, fearing their families will be notified" (ibid.).

The following information was provided by the president of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Armenians (AGLA) in France (1 Dec. 2005): Even though homosexuality has been decriminalized in Armenia, the situation of gays and lesbians has not improved. Law enforcement agencies continue to extort money and blackmail homosexuals, all of which is known by the authorities. Gays and lesbians do not report any of the problems they face as public perception is negative towards homosexuals. Homophobia and violence are "omnipresent" in the Armenian society.

The Council of Europe (COE) indicates that homosexuals are still subject to blackmail from law enforcement officials to extort money from them, that the public still has a homophobic perception of homosexuals and that "homosexuals are still a long way from being able to organise community activities in freedom" (12 Jan. 2004, Paras. 221 and 222). The COE also reports that some parliamentarians demonstrate homophobic attitudes and would like to reinstate homosexuality as an offence (COE 12 Jan. 2004, Para. 222).

AGLA stated that there is no state protection for homosexuals whose human rights are violated and, according to their contacts in Armenia, homosexuals who are victims of criminal acts often face inactivity on the part of law enforcement and authorities. Homosexuals fear violence and homophobia in their workplace or by their family, and therefore, do not file complaints of human rights violations or of criminal offences. When asked whether any state program exists to promote respect of homosexuals' human rights, AGLA responded in the negative. AGLA indicated that they wrote two letters to the Armenian authorities in October 2004, following an incident of homophobia that occurred in parliament, to request that measures be taken to prevent homophobia and to condemn homophobic remarks made by politicians and by the media. AGLA accused the Armenian authorities of promoting homophobia instead of trying to eliminate it (AGLA 1 Dec. 2005).

The aforementioned incident occurred in September 2004, when the leader of the Armenian Aryan Order, Armen Avetisyan, accused parliamentarians and top officials of being homosexuals (AGLA 22 Apr. 2005; ibid. 3 Oct. 2004; ibid. 5 Oct. 2004; ibid. 3 Nov. 2004; ArmeniaNow 8 Oct. 2004; HCA 2004; ARKA News 19 Jan. 2005). Armen Avetisyan subsequently announced that he had proof and would publish a list of senior officials who were homosexuals with the intention of forcing their resignation (AGLA 3 Oct. 2004; ArmeniaNow 8 Oct. 2004). Following these threats, according to the Helsinki Committee of Armenia, "the National Assembly held a discussion during which they threatened to dismiss the officials who would be proven to be homosexual. To justify their statements, the parliamentarians claimed that it was a threat to national security and that homosexual officials who could be blackmailed by people threatening to publicize their sexual orientation were prone to various deals and compromise" (2004). AGLA corroborated this information by indicating that "the government and opposition leaders, [parliamentary] deputies along with media outlets have organised an ugly campaign of 'witch-hunting' and incitement of hatred toward gays" (5 Oct. 2004).

Saturday 23 June 2007

Attacks on minorities: ugly face of Russia’s capital fuelled by its Mayor

Attacks on foreigners or ethnic minorities are becoming frighteningly common in Moscow, Russia.

AP (23 June 2007): Dozens of Russians brawled with people from the Caucasus and Central Asia in what Moscow police said was a coordinated attack by anti-immigrant and right-wing activists. Nearly two dozen people were arrested and one person was hospitalized. The violence Friday night was the latest incident involving hate crimes or attacks on foreigners in Russia, particularly dark-skinned immigrants from poorer regions and republics of the former Soviet Union.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov “condemned” the violence, telling the news agencies that "any display of chauvinism, xenophobia or nationalism will be harshly put down." What a hypocrite! Moscow became more intolerant (than ever!) under his governance.

I want to make parallels of this latest news on attacks on ethnic minorities and the very recent attacks on gay activists, which are also becoming frighteningly common. The same Luzhkov called gays “Satanic” and fuelled hate and violence towards LGBT people by extreme right-wing and religious fanatics.

Intolerance towards one minority group generates intolerance towards other. I am not saying that it’s the only reason, but I believe it is an important basis for creating the sort of environment where extreme right-wings, religious fanatics and others find it’s OK to attack foreigners or ethnic minorities, it’s OK to attack gay and lesbians, it’s OK to attack people with different opinions, political opponents, human rights activists, it’s OK to attack journalists… And we never saw any punishment, quite the contrary. As The Armenian Observer Blog recently stated, “It’s safe to kill Armenians”, in reference to the decision of Moscow court to acquit the murderer of 19-year-old Armenian Artur Sardaryan, despite the evidence of witnesses.

Two days ago Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that Moscow Gay Pride ban was “legal”. Mr Luzhkov says he will not allow a gay pride parade "in any form" and that any attempt to march in the streets will be "resolutely quashed." The quashing of resistance applies not just to gay people but to other who protest against the official line or who are simply different.

Reward: it looks likely that Moscow mayor will be re-appointed by president Putin for fifth term in office (!), I suppose, “for services to motherland”…

Tuesday 19 June 2007

Happy anniversary, Misha & Harut!

First (reported) symbolic gay wedding in Armenia

I beleive that in 10-15 years gay marriages will be celebrated in Armenia without being considered as a phenomenon.
Misha, founder of AGLA France, speaking to one year ago

19 June 2006, Echmiadzin (Armenia’s ‘Vatican’)

Misha: On June 19, we came to the Cathedral. I asked Arnaud [Harut] if he accepts to be the man of my life for the best and the worst, until the death separates us. I knew the answer, but it was still a very nervous moment. We kissed each other after exchanging the rings that we had prepared for each other in secrecy. That's how I became a married man. It was a very memorable day. (

It was the first same-sex marriage in Armenia reported by electronic (here and here) and printed press (168 zham).

“When we met we didn’t know that we would build a relationship,” Misha recalled in “Later we fell in love with each other so much that neither I nor he was able to work.”

They met through AGLA France (Association of Gay and Lesbian Armenians), organisation founded by Misha.

Marrying by church was Harut’s preference: “I am an Armenian and that’s why I want to get married in Armenia, and as my family taught me, I wanted it to be in church.” (

As Vahan Ishkhanyan from reported:
Of course, it was a symbolic ceremony, as the Armenian Apostolic Church does not condone gay marriages. They exchanged rings in the church and staged a small wedding party at a restaurant with Misha’s mother and their friends. They came from Paris especially to exchange vows in Echmiadzin.

Misha: I don't care if the church or the public opinion in Armenia approve our marriage. What counts for me is that we decided to celebrate our love in a symbolic way, in a symbolic place. And we did it. We did it for us, first of all. (

Harut is a jeweller and he made the Misha's ring and engraved inside in Armenian: "Love and faithfulness." (

Source of picture: (for photo report of wedding, visit here)

Today Harut and Misha celebrate their 1st anniversary. Congratulations, guys!!! You did it! You did it the way you wanted it to be despite all ‘legal’ and other obstacles.

It was exciting year for you, with its ups and downs, a happy year. I wish you keep up with that sparkle! ;)

…in the name of love

I hope this example will inspire more Armenian gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot, whether in a symbolic or legally recognised ceremony. I hope that in time same-sex unions would be recognised by Armenian state and gay wedding ceremonies would be so routine, that I would not need to write about them in my blog. Till then… if there are other Armenian gay and lesbian couples out there who tied the knot – be that marriage, civil union or a symbolic ceremony, and want to share their experience, please do keep in touch – this blog would be more than happy to feature your stories.

Friday 15 June 2007

Bad News: The first and the only Yerevan gay bar - Meline's bar, was closed down...

UPDATE: Last Day of Meline’s bar – 31 July 2008

Update (22 August 2007): Meline's bar re-opened! For more info, read here

I've just learnt that Meline's bar was closed down... Meline's was opened in November 2004. It was the first and the only openly gay bar in Yerevan with gay staff and clientele.

Here is the announcement posted on Meline's website (12 June 2007):

We are so sorry people but Meline's Bar is CLOSED FOREVER. Only our Travesty Shows will go on in different clubs. Regards

I do not know the reasons behind this closing, will try to find out (does anyone know any details?), but this is very sad news for LGBT community in Armenia. We had our bar and we lost it... I hope there were just technical or tactical reasons behind the closing. In any case, people who run this venue deserve encouragement and gratitude. They were the first, they were brave, they were great. Thank you!

Let's hope that LGBT community in Armenia will not remain deprived of 'own' venue.

Thursday 14 June 2007

Straight talking?

There’s an in-joke that goes: “Which is it better to be, black or gay?” with the answer “black, as you don’t have to tell your mother.”

For those who are gay, the invis­ibility of their sexuality and the need to
take a position on whether you’re in—or out—of the closet is a con­stant. Conversely, being heterosexual is also invisible. As Julie Fish eloquently writes [in her new book “Heterosexism in Health and Social Care”], heterosexuality “rarely has to attest to its existence . . . while homosexuality is silenced, heterosexuality is silent.” And it is this routine presumption of heterosexuality and its oppressive privi­leging over an “inferior” homosexuality that she terms heterosexism.

Fish, a research fellow at De Montfort University [a university in the city of Leicester, England], shows how heterosexism distorts the health and social care that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) users receive. Take, for instance, the account of one woman’s attendance for a cervical smear: “I was asked when I last had sex—I said my last experience of pen­etrative sex with a man was nine years ago—she said never mind, I’m sure you’ll find someone soon. With an instrument in place and my legs at 10 to 2 I didn’t feel comfortable telling her I was a lesbian!” Or then there’s the woman who “mentioned my girlfriend to the nurse and she bolted—and got a male nurse to come and do [the cervical smear].” Lesbians’ accounts of their experi­ences of cervical screening and breast cancer provide graphic illustrations of how they have to negotiate dis­closure and non-disclosure about their sexuality.

In each interaction with a health professional, the closet is in the room, and they [LGBT patients] have four choices to make — active non-disclosure (pretending to be heterosexual); passive non-disclosure (not actually claiming to be heterosexual); passive disclosure (dropping hints); and active disclosure (a verbal assertion of sexual identity).

Obliged to negotiate a range of barriers to good care, including ignorance of their needs and moral disap­proval, users from the LGBT community are more likely to report adverse rather than positive experi­ences of health care. Currently LGBT issues receive little attention in clinical training—and when they do, they are predictably confined to issues sexual and psy­chiatric. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the health sector is also uncomfortable for LGBT health professionals—in a recent survey, only 1% were “out” to their superiors.

[and here the reference is to a country (UK) which made significant progress in promoting equality and gay rights, a country in relation to which BBC recently raised the question: "Coming after a series of landmark reforms, is the job now done for gay rights campaigners?" (!)]

Given this diversity, how do we know who is a lesbian or a gay man? This question is fundamental to measur­ing and studying their needs, and whether these are being met equitably. Fish raises many of the inherent difficulties, such as what’s an accepted definition of this community, is it acceptable to the funders, or to those you’re studying—and if they haven’t disclosed to their mother, will they to you? In an infamous example, the US Center for Disease Control researching HIV/AIDS accepted as lesbian only those women who had had sex exclusively with women in the previous 13 years—and unsurprisingly found a low risk of transmission.

Fish quite rightly situates heterosexism within the broader diversity agenda, with its starting point the acknowledgement that inequity and discrimination exist in public services, and the imperative that we change policy and practice to ensure equity. This book chal­lenges us all to examine how our skin colour, nationality, religion, class, abilities, and sexuality may be a privilege, “an invisible package of unearned assets which can be cashed in daily.”

Source: Review of the week by Jeanelle de Gruchy (abridged version), British Medical Journal (BMJ), 2 June 2007
comments in [] are mine

Monday 4 June 2007

Armenia Gay Guide

country overview, useful info, gay institutions and venues

[inspired by and partly based on Spartacus International Gay Guide]

*last reviewed: 1 September 2008

Spartacus guide is the most famous and popular gay guide worldwide. The fact that Armenia entered the guide is the recognition of emerging gay scene. It may attract more gay tourists to Armenia.

Important notes re Armenia Gay Guide:

*This guide is partly based on Spartacus, with the additional info from other sources if available and appropriate.

*This guide will be updated regularly as/when new info is available. For convenience, the link to this guide is provided on the main page of my blog (see upper right corner).

*If you think that the info or listings in this guide are incorrect, please let me know your additions based on reliable sources. If you are aware of other gay or gay-friendly venues and attractions in Armenia or any other info which you think may be of interest or relevance to gay people who live in or visit Armenia, please let me know so that I will update this guide.

Country overview

In December 2002, Armenia adopted a new Criminal Code and abolished the anti-gay article 116 that dated back to 1936. Since then, homosexuality [strictly said, gay male sex] is no longer punishable. At the same time, a "gay scene" started to emerge in the capital Yerevan.

To this date, there is no gay rights movement in Armenia [well, not organised or obvious, more subtle gay rights movement exists in form of emerging gay institutions/venues, with the support of Diaspora organisations] and society remains extremely homophobic. The first gay bar Meline's opened on 12 November 2004. The first LGBT NGO called We For Civil Equality (WFCE), also known as 'Menq', was formally registered by the Ministry of Justice in July 2006. Second LGBT related NGO - PINK Armenia (Public Information and Need of Knowledge), was registered in December 2007. In May 2008, Armenian gay women group, the Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective, was established. Despite this little progress, Armenian society remains homophobic and therefore we strictly advise not to hold hands or kiss in public [although you will see men (and women) holding each other's hands in public or kissing each other when they meet or part, this is not necessarily an indicator of sexual orientation but rather established tradition]. Even if some venues listed in this guide are frequented by gays and lesbians, that doesn't mean they can be compared to western gay bars and discos.

Nevertheless, Armenia has much to offer: as one of the cradles of Christian civilisation, it has over 40 000 churches and the capital alone has over 20 museums. The month of July is rich in events. In the beginning of the month, Yerevan hosts Golden Apricot Film Festival followed by more and more popular Yerevan Jazz Festival. Outside the capital, there is a sometimes stunningly beautiful countryside. Apart from the widespread homophobia, Armenians are said to be tempered, but friendly and welcoming people.

Famous Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Armenians, as compiled by Armeniapedia (with additions), include:


[at this stage, only listings for Armenian capital - Yerevan, are available]

For more general and useful info about Armenia, Yerevan, including travel, visitor info, entertainment, activities, sites of interest and attractions, visit Armenia Info and Armeniapedia.


(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; dancing/discotheque; more popular at the weekend; younger crowd of 18-29 years old)
Hours: 7pm-5am
Address: Nalbandyan Street 48
Phone: (+37410) 580 416
It's the only disco-bar that stays late, where other places are closed. Most of the clients are foreign students who study in Yerevan.

Meline's (CLOSED DOWN!)
(gay and lesbian mixed crowd; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages)
Hours: 9pm-5am (closed on Monday)
Address: Abovyan Street 2 [according to the bar non-official website - Aram Street 30, Aram and Abovyan streets' crossroad]
Phone: (+374 10) 564 414; (+374 10) 544 644; mobile (+374 91) 112 893
Website (non-official):
Opened in November 2004. This is the only openly gay bar in town with gay staff and clientele. It is situated in the basement of French restaurant called simply "Le Restaurant Français".

Best time to go - around or after midnight.

Meline's bar was closed down in June 2007 for unknown reasons, but re-opened in August 2007.

Meline's was closed down due to financial reasons, as well as ongoing renovation projects in central Yerevan. The very last party was held there on 31 July 2008.


(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; full breakfast; extensive menu available; mixed ages)
Address: Abovyan Street 20
Phone: (+37410) 521 239
Great food and nice social place, a very American "Barnes & Noble Cafe"-type atmosphere. New and second hand books, souvenirs, and handcraft works are available here. Offers original coffee, a light European cuisine, daily breakfast and very good pasta.

Not necessarily food-wise, but atmosphere-wise, this is one of my favourite places in Yerevan.


Note: In Armenia when people say "nightclub", they most commonly refer to “striptease club”. To avoid possible confusions, if you intend to go to “dance clubs”, I would advise using the word “discotheque”.

There are number of discotheques/danceclubs frequented by LGBT Armenians; sometimes they organise 'invitation only' club nights by hiring specific venues. However, preferences and venues change frequently and it is therefore advisable to find out about relevant club nights and discoteques in place. If more 'stable' information becomes availabe in future, I will update this section of the Guide accordingly.

There are regular/occasional popular DJ nights organised in Square One (see below). Recommend it!

Monte Cristo (CLOSED DOWN!)
(gay and lesbian mixed crowd; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; extensive menu available; mixed ages; outdoor seating, terrace or garden)
Address: Nalbandyan Street 48 (above Congress Hall)
Phone: (+37410) 545 007
With French operated restaurant. Free entrance on Thursday. More gay on Friday & Saturday.


Square One
(gay-friendly venue; extensive menu available; mixed ages)
Hours: 9am-2am
Address: Abovyan Street 1/3
Phone: (+37410) 566 169
A newly opened eatery offering American dishes in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere from 9-2h. It has very gay-friendly staff and many mostly young gay and lesbian people come here to taste the best burgers in town. Occasionaly they hold popular DJ nights here. Highly recommend it!

The Club
(not gay, but of interest to LGBT community)
Restaurant, cafe, tea room, gallery, concert hall. They regularly hold art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings.
Address: 40 Tumanyan st
Phone: (+37410) 531 361

Museums / Galleries / Cinema / Theatre

Parajanov Museum
Hours: 10.30am-5pm (open seven days a week)
Address: Dzoragyugh Street 15/16 (off Proshyan Street)
Phone: (+37410) 53-84-73

Yeghishe Charents House-Museum
Hours: 10am-5pm (closed on Monday)
Address: Mashtots Avenue 17
Phone: (+37410) 53-55-94
Website: Armenia Info

Armenian Center For Contemporary Experimental Art
(“NPAK” in Armenian acronym)

Exhibitions, art projects, cinema, experimental theatre
Address: 1/3 Pavstos Biuzand Blvd., Yerevan, Armenia
Tel: (+37410) 56.82.25, 56.83.25, 56.02.18
(+37410) 56.02.16

The massive white steps that ascend from downtown Yerevan towards Haghtanak Park (Victory Park). The Cafesjian Museum of Contemporary Art will be located at the top of Cascade (under construction, will open in 2010). (source: Armeniapedia)

It will host Cafesjian’s permanent art collection, comprising of works in glass by internationally known artists Stanislav Libenski and Yaroslava Brichtova, paintings by Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, and the distinctive sculptures of Fernando Botero, as well as influential traveling exhibitions. The arts centre will include open air cinema, decorative pool, sculpture park, and public spaces for arts education, seminars and discussions.
(source: Unzipped)

Some statues by various artists have already been brought in and placed all along the monument, including works by Lynn Chadwick, Barry Flanagan, Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova, and Paul Cox. There are two statues by Fernando Botero a black cat at the bottom and a Roman Warrior at the top platform. (source: Armeniapedia)

Excellent place to hang out, enjoy art, listen to music etc.

Independent and arthouse cinema -
National Gallery of Armenia
This is the best place for independent and arthouse cinema in Yerevan, from Pasolini to Fassbinder and other gems of cinematorgraphy, with regular Q&A sessions, thematic screenings, restrospectives, festivals. A rare pleasure. Highly recommend it! Screenings are normally held over weekends, but check out the programme from the National Gallery to get the full listings. You may also wish to enjoy permanent and temporary exhibitions at the Gallery.
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10:30 - 18:00, closed on Mondays and Major holidays
Address: Republic Square, Yerevan
Phone: (+374 10) 580812, 561812

Note: For up-to-date listing of art related events, check out ArmeniaInfo's "Calendar of Events".

Travel and Transport

Hyur Service
Address: Nalbandyan Street 50 (going up from Sakharov square to Tumanyan intersection, on the right)
Phone: (+37410) 560 495
Furnished apartments for short and long term rentals in the capital; hotel reservations; airport transfer; tour packages; day trips; car/minibus rent etc. The company has offices in Los Angeles and in Paris.


(not gay but possibly of interest to gay men; hotel or other accommodation welcoming gay men; air conditioning; bar with full range of alcoholic beverages; full breakfast; extensive menu available; mixed ages; outdoor seating, terrace or garden; swimming pool; dry sauna; video shows; work-out equipment available)
Address: Grigor Lusavorich Street 7
Phone: (37410) 541 100
52 rooms and 5 suites with sat-TV, mini-bar, phone, internet access; WC/bath with floor heating and king size beds. Non-smoking rooms available.


- Opera Place (AYOR (At your own risk. Danger of personal attack or police activity): discretion recommended, only a place for picking up people).

- Kom-aygi (also called Pleshka) - close to the Yerevan City Hall and the French Embassy - best place to pick up at night but beware of police raids.

National Groups

We For Civil Equality
Location: Yerevan
Mobile phone: (+37491) 641 046
The first local NGO working for promoting LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS/STD prevention.

PINK Armenia
Myspace -
Facebook -
Blog -
This is the second LGBT related NGO in Armenia registered in December 2007. (announcement)

The Women-Oriented Women’s (WOW) Collective, Armenian gay women group

Yesoudo: LGBT Discussion Group

Blogs by transgender Armenians
Transgenders in Armenia
Hye Trent

Online publications/personal adds

The Pink
The gay and lesbian online magazine available only in Armenian. It provides press reviews, articles and analyses on LGBT issues, HIV/AIDS prevention info. [no updates since 2006]
Website: is a meeting place of LGBT Armenians around the world, with some useful links and personal adds in Russian, English and French.

Another personal adds website popular among Armenian and ex-Soviet LGBT people (mainly in Russian): Have a look also at HyeGay.

National Centre for AIDS prevention

Address: Acharyan Street 2, Yerevan
Hot Line: (+37410) 61-08-20
Phone: (+37410) 61-07-30
Fax: (+37410) 61-05-71

AIDS Prevention in Armenia (in Armenian):

Links to Armenian LGBT Organisations in Diaspora

LA Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS):
AGLA NY (formerly known as 'HyeQs of New York'):
Interview with AGLA NY President Chris Atamian
AGLA NY blog
Q-Hye - San Francisco GLBT Armenians:
AGLA Sydney:
AGLA Boston:
GALAS Montreal:
Toronto QueerHye:

*Source of pictures: Spartacus (cover page); Lonely Planet (map of Armenia);; websites of venues; Henrik Nydell (Republic Square in Yerevan at night); Unzipped: Gay Armenia (Cascade)

Saturday 2 June 2007

US Presidential Hopeful Barack Obama Supports Gay Rights in his Statement on Pride Month

A type of statement you will not hear from presidential candidates in Armenia

Background info on Pride Month in the US: June was officially named gay Pride Month in the year 2000 by former US President Bill Clinton. June was chosen to honor the Stonewall riots in 1969. The Stonewall riots were the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States with its world-wide influence. There was a police raid at the Stonewall Inn bar in Manhattan. The police raided the bar at the Stonewall Inn for only one reason, it was a gay bar. People started rioting after the horrific event and the start of the gay rights movement was born.

U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Barack Obama today released the following statement to commemorate Pride Month:

"Pride Month is a reminder that 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."

"It's time to turn the page on the bitterness and bigotry that fill so much of today's LGBT rights debate. The rights of all Americans should be protected - whether it's at work or anyplace else. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" needs to be repealed because patriotism and a sense of duty should be the key tests for military service, not sexual orientation. Civil unions should give gay couples full rights. And those who commit hate crimes should be punished no matter whether those crimes are committed on account of race, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation."

"This Pride Month, let's make our founding promise of equality a reality for every American."

A rare example of dignified politics - bravo, Obama!