Saturday 17 May 2008

Unzipped: Gay Armenia - LIST 2008

To mark International Day Against Homophobia (17 May) -exactly one year ago I started my Unzipped: Gay Armenia blog - I launch Unzipped: Gay Armenia LIST 2008, which will be published annually. 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. Time period covered by the LIST incorporates one year prior to 17 May (including 16 May). 

This year the LIST was compiled by myself only. For the following years, I will do my best to take into account also readers' and broader Armenian LGBT community views. This LIST by no means claimed to be complete. However, it recognises, to my best knowledge, key developments relating to Armenian LGBT community in Armenia and Diaspora over the past year. New categories will be added in future depending on availability of entries (like Exhibition of the Year, Book of the Year and so on).

1. Person of the Year - International

Mariela CastroMariela Castro, daughter of Cuba's incumbent president Raul Castro. She proves once more that one person can make enormous impact in transforming a society and changing its values.

I wish we have Armenian 'Mariela Castro'!

Castro champions gay rights in Cuba (photo via BBC)

"As head of the government-funded National Centre for Sex Education, she is trying to change people's attitudes towards minority groups in the community.

She is currently attempting to get the Cuban National Assembly to adopt what would be among the most liberal gay and transsexual rights law in Latin America."

2. Person of the Year - Armenia/Diaspora


Micha Meroujean, head of former AGLA France, well known gay rights activist, originally from Armenia, currently living in France. He set up Armenian gay rights organisation in France - AGLA France, which recently ceased to exist. However, he continues advocating gay rights and equality in Armenia and Diaspora, supporting local LGBT activists.

He set up Armenian Social Network online - Yesoudo, which I currently consider to be the most gay friendly Armenian social network on the web. He is also a talented film-maker. Last summer he presented his film in Armenia - "The Diary of an Exiled Queer" - first of its kind in Armenian reality where via personal diary and perspectives he touches the issues of gay rights, equality and homophobia in Armenia and Diaspora.

3. Good news of the Year

AGLA NY: Armenian gay rights organisation in New York expands

PINK Armenia - new LGBT related NGO registered in Armenia (December 2007)

4. Bad news of the Year

AGLA France: Armenian gay rights organisation ceased to exist

5.  Homophobe of the Year

Armenian Aryan Order 

(Attention seeking bigots say "Thanks" for withdrawal of Hoagland's nomination as US envoy to Armenia)

6. Article of the Year

Armenia's Animosity Towards Gays (by Shushan Harutyunyan, Hetq Online)

7. Blog posts of the Year

Blogrel  - Critical response to the article "Homosexuals Are Hidden in Armenia" (see also So why "Homosexuals Are Hidden in Armenia"?)

A1plus blog - Արմեն Հարությունյանի պատասխանները “Ա1+”-ի ընթերցողների հարցերին ("Armenian Ombudsman Armen Harutyunyan answers to the questions of A1plus blog readers" - see also here)

A1plus blog - Այսօր հոմոֆոբիայի դեմ պայքարի միջազգային օրն է (Today marks International Day Against Homophobia")

Oneworld Multimedia Blog - Homophobia in the South Caucasus

Special mention to Onnik Krikorian - as Regional Editor for Caucasus at Global Voices Online - for constantly linking to Armenia and South Caucasus LGBT related blog posts thus ensuring these issues have wider exposure and audience.

8. New LGBT related blog of the Year

Armenian Gay & Lesbian Association of New York (AGLA NY) blog

9. Homophobic articles of the Year

Here is hoping that these Armenian newspapers will change their attitude and will start publishing articles to be mentioned under the "Article of the Year" category for the next year's LIST 2009.

Aravot daily - ՀԱՅԱՍՏԱՆՈՒՄ ՀԱՄԱՍԵՌԱՄՈԼՆԵՐԸ ԹԱՔՆՎԱԾ ԵՆ (see also So why "Homosexuals Are Hidden in Armenia"?)

Aravot dailyՉեն սիրում քաղաքական խաղեր, արհամարհում են համասեռամոլներին (see also Aravot newspaper: Routine homophobia on ‘behalf’ of Armenian bloggers)

Chorrord Ishkhanutyun - (no direct link to original article in Armenian; see Opposition "Chorrord Ishkhanutyun" newspaper must stop using homophobic references in its attacks on Armenia PM Tigran Sargsyan)

9. LGBT related international reports for Armenia

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner calls for specific legal provisions in Armenia to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation

Discrimination against gay Armenians: US State Department Human Rights Report 2007

1o. NGO(s) of the Year

These two local NGOs directly work with the LGBT community in Armenia and deserve recognition and support.

We For Civil Equality (WFCE)

PINK Armenia

11. Venue of the Year

Meline's Bar - despite closure and re-opening again, controversial opinions, Meline's remains the first and the only gay bar in Yerevan, a place where LGBT Armenians can be themselves, spend evening/night out, relax and have fun. For other gay-friendly venues, see my Armenia Gay Guide

12. Social networking site of the Year

Yesoudo - Armenian Social Network,  the most gay friendly Armenian social network on the web

13. Film(s) of the Year

The Diary of an Exiled Queer (director Micha Meroujean) - see above, "Person of the Year - Armenia/Diaspora"

East/West - Sex and Politics (director Jochen Hick, Germany, 2008) - an in-depth account of the attempts to mount a Gay Pride parade in Moscow in 2006 and 2007 - prominently features gay Armenian storyline (P.S. I intend to write about this film in a separate post; when ready, I will indicate the link under the comments section below)


Anonymous said...

Mika every time reading your blogs I wanna say thanks million times. I think you have to create a nice website and that will be the best ever. Always you have fresh and important information and many other interesting things in your blogs.
Really thank you so much for everything that you do. I m proud of you

artmika said...

Many thanks, Mamikon!!!
P.S. Hope to see you again in September ;)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am a Taiwanese who is very interested in Armenia.

I would like to know is Armenia friendly to LGBT people?

artmika said...

I wish I could say that Armenia is LGBT-friendly country. Unfortunately, homophobia is still prevalent in our society, discrimination is common on various levels, and gay Armenians overwhelmingly prefer staying ‘in closet’. However, recently some progress was observed re gay visibility, gay rights groups and gay-friendly venues. I would suggest you reading a brief overview in my Armenia Gay Guide , as well as other relevant posts in this blog. Also have a look at various LGBT related Armenian links provided. Hope you will find this useful.