Saturday 31 January 2015

(IN)2VALUABLE photo exhibit and contest by PINK Armenia tackles intolerance and discrimination

On 21 December 2014, (IN)2VALUABLE exhibition took place in “Nerkay Arts Management and Creativity Center” organised by PINK Armenia. The exhibition - based on submissions for the photo contest of the same name - aimed at drawing attention to the problems of discrimination and intolerance in our society, with the entries reflecting concepts of tolerance and anti-discrimination.

All photo entries were initially posted on Facebook, and the following three entries have been awarded in different categories:

  • The most liked photo on Facebook: “All Different, All Equal” by Harutyun Krikyan 
  • Jury selection: “My Sport” by Artur Karoyan 
  • INVALUABLE photo: “Love” by Ani Tadevosyan

The last two entries were selected by a jury, including both PINK Armenia board members and a professional photographer.

I am glad that along with the three entries above, my favourite entry, submitted by Peghq -“We Are All Humans” (see below), have also been selected to be used for promotional materials of PINK Armenia, such as postcards and informational materials. Congrats !!

Friday 30 January 2015

“We Are Among You” campaign by LGBT group in Azerbaijan

Via, the aim of “We Are Among You” campaign by Azeri group Nefes LGBT (“Free LGBT”) is to send a message to the public in this largely homophobic country that LGBT people are an integral part of the Azerbaijani society.

As part of the campaign, LGBT activists posted stickers “before you, a lesbian [or gay/bi/trans person] sat [or stood] here” in various parts of the capital Baku.
Как говорят организаторы, цель компании - показать общественности, что ЛГБТ являются неотъемлемой частью азербайджанского общества.

По словам общественной организации «Свободные ЛГБТ» (Nefes LGBT), общество ошибочно полагает, что представители ЛГБТ никогда не жили в Азербайджане и появились в результате изменения образа жизни после обретения Азербайджаном независимости, в результате активной интеграции в Европу.

«Мы, как и гетеросексуалы, являемся неотъемлемой частью азербайджанского общества. Мы не больны, и наравне с гетеросексуалами активно участвуем в общественной жизни страны». С этой целью в различных частях столицы ЛГБТ активистами были расклеены стикеры «До тебя тут сидел гей», «До тебя тут сидела лесбиянка».

*screenshot - via Nefes LGBT Facebook group

Thursday 29 January 2015

Human Rights Watch "World Report 2015": reflections on LGBT rights in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan

Brief reflections of different aspects re LGBT rights in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan by Human Rights Watch within their annual World Report 2015 released today.


Minority Rights
Local lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists reported that LGBT people continue to face discrimination, harassment, and physical violence. Hate speech against LGBT people, including by public officials, remains a serious issue. Gender identity and sexual orientation are not included in anti-discrimination or hate speech laws, limiting legal recourse for many crimes against LGBT people.

Iravunq newspaper published several online articles calling for LGBT people and organizations working to protect them to be excluded from public life and for their families to shun them. A May 17 article included a “blacklist” of 60 people with links to their social media pages. Several people named in the article requested a retraction, but the paper refused. Sixteen people filed lawsuits for damage to honor and dignity, but a court rejected their claims in October.

Key International Actors
The PACE fact-finding mission report noted the improved political climate and progress toward Armenia’s fulfilment of its Council of Europe (CoE) membership obligations but also highlighted serious shortcomings, including the lack of judicial independence, abuses in the military, domestic violence, and hostility toward religious minorities and LGBT people.


Anti-Discrimination and Minority Rights 
In May, parliament adopted an anti-discrimination bill that provides for protection against discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Some criticized the bill for lacking efficient implementation mechanisms, including means for imposing financial penalties for perpetrators. The bill put the Ombudsman’s Office in charge of overseeing anti-discrimination measures.

In February, the constitutional court in Georgia struck down a 13-year-old ban on homosexual men being blood donors.


Human Rights Defenders
Isa Shahmarly, former chair of the Free (Azad) LGBT group, hanged himself with a rainbow flag in his Baku apartment in late January 2014, writing in a note that Azerbaijan society was “not for him.”

PACE delegates: Armenian authorities fail to condemn incitement to hatred against LGBT people

Below is a statement [Written declaration No. 584 | Doc. 13690 | 28 January 2015] by 22 delegates of the PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe):

[For background: Tabloid of hate: virulent homophobia awarded by Armenia president’s state medal and stamped by court’s approval]

On 17 May 2014 the Armenian newspaper ‘Iravunk’ published an article on its website entitled “They serve the interests of international homo-addiction [sic] lobbying: the blacklist of the country’s and nation’s enemies”. It attacked “homosexual lobbyists” for trying to “aggressively enforce their moral dogma on our country”. Demanding “zero tolerance”, it identified 60 people, calling for them to be ostracised, denied employment and access to the media, and excluded from participation “in the upbringing of younger generations”.

The chair of the ‘Iravunk’ board, Hayk Babukhanyan, is an MP for Armenia’s governing political faction, the Republican Party.

The authorities have failed to condemn this incitement to hatred and discrimination. On the contrary, on 25 October Mr Babukhanyan was awarded a medal of honour by the President of Armenia. A law suit against “Iravunk” for defamation was dismissed six days later.

We call upon:

• Armenia’s delegates to this Assembly, particularly those from the Republican Party, to impress upon colleagues the need to refrain from incitement to hatred and discrimination;

• The Armenian authorities to condemn such incitement unreservedly and to put in place measures to implement the Committee of Ministers Recommendation on combating discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Ms Petra De SUTTER, Belgium, SOC

Ms Boriana ÅBERG, Sweden, EPP/CD

Mr Claude ADAM, Luxembourg, SOC

Mr Paride ANDREOLI, San Marino, SOC

Mr Gerardo GIOVAGNOLI, San Marino, SOC

Mr Jonas GUNNARSSON, Sweden, SOC

Ms Monica HAIDER, Sweden, SOC

Ms Eva-Lena JANSSON, Sweden, SOC


Mr Pierre-Yves LE BORGN', France, SOC

Mr Philippe MAHOUX, Belgium, SOC

Ms Marit MAIJ, Netherlands, SOC

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, Switzerland, SOC

Mr Michael McNAMARA, Ireland, SOC

Ms Ana Catarina MENDONÇA, Portugal, SOC

Ms Marie-Claude MORIN, Canada

Ms Melita MULIĆ, Croatia, SOC

Mr Michele NICOLETTI, Italy, SOC

Ms Carina OHLSSON, Sweden, SOC

Ms Maria de Belém ROSEIRA, Portugal, SOC

Ms Deborah SCHEMBRI, Malta, SOC

Ms Tineke STRIK, Netherlands, SOC

Sunday 25 January 2015

Research: The impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia

I am not an economist and I did not conduct a detailed analysis of this report, so I cannot judge re quality or precision of the estimates, but I praise this first attempt at putting numeric values and reflecting the impact of LGBT emigration on Armenia's economy. Of course, as report stresses, particularly in countries with widespread homophobia where LGBT people conceal their sexual orientation, any research on LGBT related issues has its limitations. However, despite these limitations, such research provides us with an invaluable insight into the issues faced and may help at refining the research methodology.

Below I present a summary prepared by PINK Armenia. For the report in full, please follow this link.

“Public information and Need of Knowledge” and “Socioscope” Societal Research and Consultancy Center NGOs prepared a report about the LGBT emigration impact on economic indicators of Armenia. The purpose of the project was to study the impact of LGBT emigration on economic indicators of Armenia during 2011-2013 as a result of discrimination against the LGBT community and to reflect those changes in a long-term perspective.

The calculations made by this study demonstrate that, for a citizen of Armenia of average demographics who emigrated during the years 2011-2013, a minimum of the equivalent of $3,545 was spent on education. According to approximate estimates, 5,891 citizens of Armenia emigrated due to discrimination during the years 2011-2013, which implies that society has lost around $21 million in one go only in terms of educational investment toward LGBT emigrants. As for income not received, the calculations reveal that, in the year following emigration during 2011-2013, Armenia did not receive $88,365,000 across three years and for all LGBT emigrants. This is the loss following only one year after emigration, but that loss is prevalent in reality in all the years until the emigrant reaches retirement age.

Budget revenues for all three years taken together – 2011-2013 – could have been more by $20 million had the LGBT individuals who left due to discrimination remained. As a result of the emigration of 5,891 LGBT individuals, the state budget will lose around $2 billion in revenue, at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014, over the course of more than the following 36 years (until retirement).And as a result of LGBT emigration in the following twelve years, from 2014 to 2025, Gross domestic product (GDP) will have a loss of $3 billion at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014, adjusted for Purchasing power parity (PPP), while the budget will lose $370 million at purchasing power as of January 1, 2014.

The full report consists of sociological study and economic assessment. Read the full report with all its findings here.
*This chart is from the study Monitoring of Human Rights Violations of LGBT PeopleArmenia conducted by PINK Armenia during September-October 2012.