Saturday 24 May 2014

RED HOT exhibit, London: portraits of hot guys with important message

Beautiful RED HOT exhibit in London by photographer and filmmaker Thomas Knights.

Not only this exhibit is full with portraits of hot guys, but it also conveys an important message of no discrimination and no prejudice: “Many of the guys have suffered prejudice or discrimination as a direct result of their red hair. Next to each portrait is a personal quote, adding a layer of heart, humour and triumph to their beautiful image.”

Monday 19 May 2014

"The Invisibles" make rainbow visible in Tbilisi with more LGBT rights flash mobs in Georgia capital

As I posted yesterday, after last year's violence instigated by Georgian orthodox church and amid renewed hysteria, LGBT people in Tbilisi, Georgia kept low profile on 17th May IDAHOT. But only on surface.

Several creative protest actions were conducted over the last couple of days "on behalf of the Invisible & against Invisibility". For "shoe protest" - read Tbilisi: IDAHOT hijacked by Georgian orthodox church amid "shoe protest" action "on behalf of the Invisible & against Invisibility".

This morning Tbilisi woke up to a very visible rainbow sign in the heart of Georgia capital.
@GeorgeGogua: #Protest of the invisibles. Group of #activists paint #LGBT flag on stairs in #Tbilisi #Georgia #IDAHOT #humanrights

"Following an anti-LGBT demonstration on 17 May 2014 by the Georgian Orthodox Church to prevent observation of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), gay rights activists continue to hold anti-homopbia flash mobs in Tbilisi, Georgia. The latest, held in the early hours this morning, the painting of the rainbow flag on the steps by the Freedom Square metro station" © Onnik Krikorian Photography.

Below is another beautiful picture via Democracy & Freedom Watch:

DF Watch also reports on another protest action by "the Invisibles":
Another rally named ‘I am Here against Homophobia’ was a protest expressed in notes attached to different places in the capital. Different messages were printed on pieces of paper with a rainbow symbol in the corner. “I cannot find a reason to justify your hatred”, “89 percent of Georgia’s LGBT community have been victims of psychological pressure at least once for the last two years,” – these and other messages were written on the notes. (Watch the photos on Facebook here.)

Sunday 18 May 2014

IDAHOT in Armenia (part 2): cake against homophobia

*Yerevan, Armenia, 17 May 2014

IDAHOT in Armenia (part 1): PINK Armenia and activists join voices against homophobia and transphobia

For me, tweet of the day was by @nkayserian:
Everyday should be International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. #IDAHOT #LoveIsLove

Ahead of the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), PINK Armenia published this brief handbook (in Armenian): "what is homophobia, why it's dangerous & how to stop it".

Precise, right to the point. Good job, PINK.
Dozens of activists participated in “I am against homophobia” online video campaign. You may see example below (+ here), and all the videos here.

On the occasion of IDAHOT, PINK Armenia issued an open letter to Armenia president, speaker of the parliament, PM, ombudsman, minister of justice expressing concerns re prevalent homophobia in Armenia and calling for actions to ensure constitutional rights of all citizens.

Below is English summary of the statement (for Armenian original - see here and in comments section):

May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. It is celebrated every year on May 17 in more than 100 countries in order to raise issues about violations of LGBT human rights. The day is symbolic because of the fact that on May 17, 1990 World Healthcare Organization removed homosexuality as a mental disorder.

“Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO expresses its concern regarding vivid expressions of homophobia towards LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people living in Armenia, which became basis of human rights violations of LGBT people, hate crimes and an atmosphere of impunity. In Armenia, one can find human rights violations of LGBT people in every sphere of life – in the family, armed forces, law enforcement bodies, institutions of medical care and education, mass media, the workplace, public and social spaces, church etc. Almost every space within our public is a site of possible discrimination and abuse for LGBT people.

72.1% of the public has a negative attitude toward LGBT people in Armenia (survey). A big number of homophobia in the society, calls of state officials that spread hatred and intolerance and justification of crimes against LGBT people by them created a climate of impunity in the country, as well continuously contribute to the growth of crimes against LGBT people, which endanger the realization of democratic processes, violate human and civil rights and freedoms set in the RA Constitution.

The impunity, state sponsored intolerance and discrimination, extreme and denying illegal practices, in fact, disrupt the society, endanger the public order, national security, and discredit Armenia’s international reputation. According to RA Constitution, Article 3, the human being, his/her dignity and the fundamental human rights and freedoms are an ultimate value. The state shall ensure the protection of fundamental human and civil rights in conformity with the principles and norms of the international law. The state shall be limited by fundamental human and civil rights as a directly applicable right.

With this statement, once again, we want to express our strong concern and disappointment that fundamental rights and freedoms of LGBT people, a part of society, are not respected and ensured in the Republic of Armenia. Moreover, “favorable conditions” are created by the state level for violations of the rights of LGBT people, promotion of violence and committing offenses. We ask and require from the authorities of RA to carry out their duties and obligations assumed by the RA Constitution and laws, as well as to undertake concrete actions to ensure the realization of rights and fundamental freedoms of LGBT people living in Armenia enshrined in the Constitution, to prevent any abuse towards LGBT persons, as well as the propaganda, call or encouragement of such abuses.

In the Republic of Armenia, as in a social and legal state, RA Constitutional Order must be approved for the sake of freedom of our society and nation, dignity and multicultural development
IDAHOT in Armenia (part 2): cake against homophobia

Tbilisi: IDAHOT hijacked by Georgian orthodox church amid "shoe protest" action "on behalf of the Invisible & against Invisibility"

The most hilarious news of the worldwide celebration of IDAHOT came from Tbilisi: "Mistakenly believing one of them to be gay, two homophobes attack each other on Rustaveli Ave."
According to the video, uploaded by, two homophobes, attacked each other, after wrongly believing that one of them was gay. People gathered at the rally thought one of them was gay and demanded from him to leave the territory before the Parliament building, Tbilisi on May 17th, 2014. Video shows that rally participant (held by the police on the picture below) tells the other: “I shall not let you stand next to me, next to true God! Leave now!” Soon, they attacked each other and continued adorning each other with pejoratives, swearing and name calling, including comparisons with female and male sexual organs. “Police force, mobilised on spot, took one of the participants of the scuffle out from the territory” – Liberali reported.
*picture - via Identoba

In general, the day was hijacked by the Georgian orthodox church, announcing 17th May as "Family Day" and calling people to protest against recently passed LGBT-inclusive anti-discrimination bill.
Orthodox groups marched and rallied in downtown Tbilisi on May 17 to protest against newly adopted anti-discrimination law and to mark day of “family strength”, introduced by the Georgian Orthodox Church in an attempt to counter the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO). 
Last year an attempted anti-homophobia rally on May 17 in Tbilisi to mark IDAHO was violently disrupted by thousands of demonstrators, led by Orthodox clerics. Fearing homophobic violence, LGBT rights groups held no event this year.
*picture - via @onewmphoto

After last year's violence instigated by Georgian orthodox church, LGBT people kept low profile on 17th May. Instead, a "shoe protest" action was conducted "on behalf of the Invisible & against Invisibility".
More than 100 shoes lay on Pushkin Square, where on May 17th, 2013 LGBT community was supposed to hold a silent flash-mob to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. As the title of the Installation “Protest on Behalf of the Invisible & Against Invisibility” and concept suggest it, this “shoe protest” is a sort of revolt against invisibility and on behalf of those rendered invisible. It speaks for those, who, last year tried to bring their voices forward to the society: “This is an installation for the invisible, those who are unseen, those who are not heard, whose existence is not recognised. This is installation is for us, those who view but don’t see and listen to each other. This is for those who can’t leave homes and those who have no home to go to. This is for those who were chased after, persecuted and removed, by [...]
Today, these empty shoes stand instead of those humans, who dared, 1 year ago, to stand up against the invisibility of one social group, LGBTQ community, those who tried to unmask how merciless we are, those to attempted to discuss our common challenges. Those who wish to be here to express their woes and joys, but neither the state, nor the society respect their voice and their existence. This is a protest for the invisible and against invisibility. Despite that fact that we couldn’t yet manage to recognise and appreciate each other, we still exist, with our desires to speak, with your everydayness. Turning blind eye and covering up ears won’t erase our existence, won’t smooth over our wounds, won’t take away our ability to feel empathy and love.
Passersby are free to take a shoe of their choice after 6PM, May 18th.

Azerbaijan: IDAHOT 2014 with rainbow flashmob, online campaign and LGBT-related newsletter

Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance organised rainbow flashmob to mark the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Earlier they launched online "Hate Kills" campaign.

*source: @LGBT_Azerbaycan

Ahead of IDAHOT, Nefes published online newsletter reflecting some of the main LGBT-related news over January-March 2014:

1. Suicide of the chairman of Free LGBT Azerbaijan:
"As a mark of respect for Isa and hundreds of victims of hate crimes, we would like to declare that, from now on we will celebrate 22nd January date as "LGBT Pride Day‟.
2. Physical violence and death threats against president of Nefes LGBT Azerbaijan Alliance. As per reports, the perpetrator effectively escaped being charged and received a symbolic fine.

3. The results of survey on employment discrimination of LGBT people (survey covered 8 regions in Azerbaijan):
"64% of anwerers doesn't want to work with LGBT person and overall, 60% has negative attitude towards LGBT people. Furthermore, 60% of respondents said that, they will not hire LGBT person, if they were a boss."

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Armenia Eurovision national jury’s Arshakyan sisters re Conchita and LGBT: ‘Mental health patients are repulsive’

UPDATE 16 May 2014: Armenia Eurovision national jury Arshakyan sisters profoundly apologised for homophobic and other pretty shameful statements. They said they have no negative attitude towards gays, transvestites, mental health patients… [For details and video link - see comments section]
Says Armenia’s Eurovision national jury member Anush Arshakyan: “I put Conchita towards the bottom of the ranking due to my internal repulsion [towards Conchita]”.

In an interview with Aravot daily, Anush said she was shocked that by sms votes, Conchita was No. 2 in Armenia. [Read: Conchita crowned Queen of Eurovision: “We are unity and we are unstoppable” amid outrage at national jury vote in South Caucasus]

She then continued: “I find this phenomenon repulsive, the same way I find mental health patients repulsive”.

Her sister, another jury member Inga Arshakyan was next to her during the interview and we may safely assume she shares Anush’s views. [To remind, this year’s national jury members Inga and Anush Arshakyan represented Armenia in Eurovision 2009 finishing 10th.]
«Ես վերջին տեղը տվել եմ ադրբեջանցիներին եւ նախավերջինը՝ Կոնչիտային: Նրան վերջին տեղերում էի դրել՝ ներքին հակակրանքից դրդված: Նա միայն հակակրանք էր առաջացնում: Եվ ես ապշած եմ, որ sms քվեարկությամբ 2-րդ տեղ են տվել Կոնչիտային: Ես չգիտեմ, թե ովքեր են քվեարկողները եղել, բայց ես չեմ կարծում, որ մեր ամբողջ ժողովուրդը լավ վերաբերմունք ունի այդ անձի հանդեպ»,-ի հետ զրույցում մեր հարցին, թե ինչու էին «Եվրատեսիլի» տրանսվեստիտ մասնակից Կոնչիտային Հայաստանում ցածր միավորներ տվել՝ այսպես պատասխանեց Արշակյան քույրերից մեկը՝ Անուշ Արշակյանը: Ինգան եւ Անուշը միանգամից դեմքի արտահայտությունը փոխեցին եւ զզվանքով ձեռքերով խաչ արեցին, երբ Կոնչիտայի անունը տվեցինք: […] 
Մեր դիտարկմանը, որ ասում են՝ պետք է հարգել փոքրամասնությանը՝ Անուշ Արշակյանը պատասխանեց. «Հարգանքի աստիճաններ կան: Եթե խոսենք տոլեռանդության մասին, ամենատարածված բանն է Եվրոպայում, ապա ես երեւի թե դեմ եմ ցանկացած ձեւի ագրեսիային եւ ցանկացած տեսակի մարդկային բնաջնջմանը դեմ եմ: Եթե համարենք, որ այդ մարդիկ հիվանդ են, նրանց կարելի է բուժել եւ այդ առումով իմ հակակրանքը հասկանալի է: Ինչպես հոգեկան հիվանդն է հակակրանք առաջացնում, այնպես էլ նման երեւույթները: Իմ հակակրանքը ճիշտ այդպիսին է: Ես ոչ թե ագրեսիվ եմ, այլ՝ մերժողական այդպիսի դրսեւորումների հանդեպ»:  
And this is what supposed to be a “professional jury” ??? Armenia’s national jury should be disqualified, and its members should not be allowed to serve in any jury contest, or any event.

They are shame not only for Armenia, but for Eurovision in general.

Not only they are homophobic, not only they accepted that they voted based on anything but professional assessments, but they offend patients with mental health problems too. This is beyond words shocking and disgusting. And to think that there was time I quite liked the sisters…

Thank you, Conchita. Your win was like a litmus test.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Conchita crowned Queen of Eurovision: “We are unity and we are unstoppable” amid outrage at national jury vote in South Caucasus

Big congrats, Conchita !! Stunning performance. Epic win for the Queen of Eurovision.

Says Conchita: "This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are - we are unity and we are unstoppable."

As Eurovision blogger @dreurovision tweeted: “Austrian victory in #Eurovision is a slap in the face for homophobia across Europe!”

*picture by Thomas Hanses (EBU), via

Despite what official voting results (combined 50% national jury and 50% televote) may suggest, Conchita touched the hearts all over bigger Europe, including the South Caucasus countries Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

If we only count televotes (i.e. people’s vote via calls or sms), Austria’s Conchita ranks 2nd and gets 10 points from both Armenia and Georgia, and ranks 3rd getting 8 points from Azerbaijan. However, combined with jury votes, Austria received 0 (zero !!) point from Armenia (No. 24, above only Azerbaijan) and 1 point from Azerbaijan.

According to Eurovision statement, Georgia’s national jury results for final were declared invalid. Therefore, the televoting results applied. It’s not clear yet the exact reason but I wish Armenia’s national jury was disqualified too. Plus, juries from some other countries.

This effectively means that adding so called “professional juries” votes fuc*ed up the ranking, and national juries (in this case) in the South Caucasus countries simply suck. Big time.

In fact, the highest difference between jury and televote ranking re Conchita was in Armenia (22 points difference), followed by Azerbaijan (21) and Belarus (19). Even in Russia difference was not as prominent (8), and in Russia Conchita was No.3 (8 points) by televote & only adding jury voting put her No.6 (5 points).

I’d say shame on you, Armenia’s national jury. Your voting was a disgrace.

And I’d say well done people in the South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) who proved to be more open minded than what regimes and certain ‘elites’ want us to believe.

In general, looking at pattern of people’s and national juries voting indicates that the jury voting is more political and ‘calculating’ than people’s voting. Ironically, the very reason why juries were introduced in the first place. Here are just few observations re Armenia’s national jury voting:

1. Political: Placing Ukraine towards bottom of their rankings so that there is no chance for Armenia to give any points to Ukraine, to avoid upsetting Russia.

2. Calculating (so called ‘strategic voting’): Placing Sweden towards the bottom of their ranking, because they knew Sweden is one of top favourites to win, so that to avoid votes to Sweden from Armenia. And giving the highest points to clear non favourites to win, like Montenegro (No. 2 in jury ranking) or Malta (No. 1 in jury ranking).

3. Homophobic/transphobic: Placing Conchita towards the bottom of their ranking (above Azerbaijan) because they are homophobic/transphobic and/or sh*t scared of being later ‘accused’ as supporting LGBT representative + like in case of Sweden, to ‘neutralise’ votes from Armenia to top favourite Austria.

All this clearly shows that jury’s voting had nothing to do with judging performance. It’s pretty much a manipulation to neutralise people’s votes. A kind of legitimate voting fraud, because formally they did not break any rules.

And finally. Austria giving 12 points to Armenia regardless of all what happened in the run up to the contest, with very close high televote and jury votes. Learn the lesson, Armenia. Love conquers hate.

Friday 9 May 2014

Online campaign calls Eurovision fans in Armenia to vote for Austria's Conchita

“Armenia Vote Conchita / Հայերի ձայները Կոնչոյին” initiative on social networks Twitter (@voteforconchita) and Facebook ( calls Eurovision fans in Armenia to vote for Conchita Wurst during Eurovision final. This is in response to homophobic and transphobic comments generated following the announcement that Conchita will be Austria’s entry in Eurovision 2014.

Here is a description of the FB page Armenia Vote Conchita / Հայերի ձայները Կոնչոյին:
[text below as in original]
“If you thought of all Armenians as uneducated intolerant homophobic assholes, well, have I got fab news for u gurl!

We support Conchita, or Concho, as we affectuously call her in Armenian, we'll vote for her and we invite everyone living in Armenia to vote for Concho, too.

Մենք աջակցում ենք Կոնչիտա Վյուրստին կամ Կոնչոյին, ինչպես հայոց ազգը նրան փաղաքշաբար կոչեց, քվեարկելու ենք նրա օգտին ու Հայաստանաբնակներին հրավիրում ենք մեզ հետ քվեարկել Կոնչոյի օգտին:”

I made my indirect contribution to #ArmVoteConchita by voting for her from London. Btw, Conchita delivered a fabulous performance during semifinal, worthy a winner.

Eurovision final is on Saturday and among favourites to win the contest bookmakers name Austria, Sweden, The Netherland, Armenia, UK…

As 50% of votes are counting from the national juries votes, the main challenge for Conchita’s path to Eurovision victory will perhaps come from the national juries in post-Soviet-block countries where homophobia and transphobia are still widespread.

It will be interesting to see how much difference people’s vote will make and whether we will see votes for Austria’s Conchita coming from Armenia.

Good luck, Conchita !!

Monday 5 May 2014

Rainbow Eurovision: Armenia’s Aram MP3, Austria’s Conchita, Iceland’s Pollapönk and lesson of diversity

I really want to believe that Eurovision experience is becoming a liberating eye opener for Armenia representative Aram MP3.

I do hope he learned (or learning) the lesson of diversity, and I am glad to see that after publicly reconciling with Conchita, issuing “I reject homophobia” statement [for background story:123], we get more pictures of Aram MP3 reflecting and communicating message of diversity and no prejudice.

*Aram MP3 with Iceland representative Pollapönk. [via Z&A Stores, Armenia FB page]

Pollapönk (see picture above with Aram MP3) will represent Iceland at the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen, Denmark, performing “No Prejudice".