Sunday 31 May 2015

US Peace Corps book advice for their LGBT volunteers in Armenia

This is an LGBT-related excerpt from a US Peace Corps book on Armenia ["Armenia in Depth: A Peace Corps Publication", 18 September 2014], providing advice to their volunteers. There are some amusing passages there on expected behaviour re both gay men and women.

Possible Issues for Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Volunteers

“Gay, lesbian and bisexual Volunteers have to practice discretion. Although homosexuals certainly exist in Armenia, homosexuality may be considered immoral by some people. Certain mannerisms considered acceptable in the United States may be viewed with disdain or suspicion by Armenians. Your basic civil liberties may be ignored, and you may be hassled in bars or in the streets.

You may serve for two years without meeting another gay, lesbian, or bisexual Volunteer or Armenian. Most gay, lesbian, and bisexual Armenian probably have migrated to larger cities, while many Peace Corps Volunteers are posted in rural sites. Relationships with host country nationals can happen, but as with all cross-cultural relationships, they are not likely be easy. Lesbians will have to deal with constant questions about boyfriends, marriage, and sex (as do all women). Wearing an “engagement ring” may help. Gay men must deal with machismo: talk of conquest(s), girl watching, dirty jokes etc.

The Peace Corps is committed to providing support for all Volunteers regardless of sexual orientation.”

Saturday 30 May 2015

Educational short film on need for comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation in Armenia

This great educational short film (in Armenian), with the use of nice graphics and pics,  illustrates various types of discrimination, so widespread in Armenia, and why it is essential to have a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, including discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Մեկ հասարակություն ՝ մեկ իրավունք from EPF Armenia on Vimeo.

Friday 22 May 2015

Charles Aznavour's “Comme Ils Disent" feature in Divas show, Las Vegas

The fame of Charles Aznavour's groundbreaking "Comme Ils Disent" ("What Makes a Man a Man”) - "the first song about homosexuality" - extended to Las Vegas, featuring in popular Divas show. In fact, it was one of the strongest performances in Divas, emotionally charged, very nicely executed.

If you are in Las Vegas, do not miss your chance to check it out. I highly recommend.

P.S. Today is Charles Aznavour's birthday. Happy bday, Aznavour !! Thank you for your music. And more. Much more !!

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Azeri group Peace for LGBTQ held IDAHOT event in Baku

Azeri group Peace for LGBTQ held an event in Baku - "The burden rainbow carry" - to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on 17th May.

As a special guest during their interactive seminar, Dr. Elmir Akbar, well known in Azerbaijan
psychotherapist, spoke about his analysis concerning the causes and treatment of emotional breakdowns experienced by LGBT people, as well as related issues.

Even though it was an open event, the location and the names of participants were kept confidential considering safety issues.

Says Peace for LGBTQ: “The world is beautiful as long as there is peace. It's in our hands to free this world from hatred.”

Participants then hold posters with human rights messages, which were published on the Peace for LGBTQ Facebook page.

"Normal dediyiniz nedir?” - reads one of the messages on posters, meaning ‘What do u define as normal?”. This is one of the slogans of Peace for LGBTQ.

*based on Peace for LGBTQ FB page

Tuesday 19 May 2015

U.S. Ambassador in Armenia marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Kudos to US Ambassador for marking IDAHOT by holding a reception of LGBT rights activists and NGO representatives in Armenia.

*via US embassy in Yerevan

In recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17, U.S. Ambassador Richard M. Mills, Jr. met with Armenian civil society representatives who advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights in Armenia. During their meeting, the Ambassador heard from the civil society representatives about their work to ensure that the legal and human rights of LGBT Armenian citizens are fully protected.

The United States remains unwavering in its commitment to advance LGBT equality at home and around the world. Both former Secretary Clinton and Secretary Kerry have made strong statements condemning discrimination and violence against LGBT persons, recognizing that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The U.S. Embassy has supported NGOs who advocate for equal rights for all Armenians through its Democracy Commission Small Grants program.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Rainbow flag in the very heart of Armenia capital to mark IDAHOT 2015

*picture: via PINK Armenia FB page

Even if for a short while, to make this picture as a statement, rainbow flag was present in the very heart of Armenia capital Yerevan to mark IDAHOT 2015, thanks to this awesome bunch of people.

Big respects !!

British and Swedish ambassadors in Yerevan and Tbilisi mark IDAHOT 2015, while others kept silence

Great statement from the British Embassy in Yerevan and Ambassador Kathy Leach to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Glad to see the UK's support, as we share common goal:
"The UK has always been next to the individuals and organizations that are under very challenging circumstances trying to promote LGBT rights locally and globally." 
"No one should face discrimination because of who they are and who they love. Our goal is a diverse, respectful and fair world."
Full statement below and on British embassy's Facebook page

In a related separate development, respects to the Ambassador of Sweden to Georgia and Armenia, Martina Quick, who stood next to LGBT activists and allies in Tbilisi today, marking IDAHOT 2015 in a small but peaceful event, under police protection.
[For more about IDAHOT events in Tbilisi: here]

Unfortunately, at time of writing this post, there has been no statement from the US embassy in Armenia, although embassy's Twitter and FB pages shared some general LGBT related human rights messages. [UPDATE: 19 May 2015 U.S. Ambassador in Armenia marks International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia]

Pretty astonishing of all was a position of the EU delegation in Armenia. A total silence, that is, i.e. ZERO mention of IDAHOT by them. Instead, their Twitter account was busy sharing concert pictures and selfie. They did not even share the EU's statement on IDAHOT. They got my big FAIL mark.

#‎IDAHOT2015‬ Day Statement

May 17 is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. This is a day marked globally to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Despite progress in some parts of the world, there is still a lot to be done both to fight against prejudice and also to ensure everyone is equally protected under the law.

The UK has always been next to the individuals and organizations that are under very challenging circumstances trying to promote LGBT rights locally and globally. Here in British Embassy Yerevan we have welcomed and supported the efforts of local LGBT activists, media and bloggers. This year an LGBT community dedicated media started to function – – which took the local efforts a step further.

No one should face discrimination because of who they are and who they love. Our goal is a diverse, respectful and fair world.

Kathy Leach
British Embassy Yerevan

Armenian version of “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!” in Yerevan to mark IDAHOT

Activists in Yerevan posted Armenian version of Stonewall's message - “Some People Are Gay. Get Over It!”  - "Ոմանք գեյ են, թեթև տարեք" - across various parts of Yerevan, including street crossings, to mark IDAHOT. Respects!!

Exclusive pictures below.

UPDATE: 18 May 2015 - One day after my post:

...and this :))

UPDATE: 19 May 2015 - Two days after my post:

...and these :))

Friday 15 May 2015

How incorrect use of Armenian translit turned this rap song ‘gay’

Few days ago, I received a Google alert update that there is this ‘gay Armenian’ rap song on YouTube. The title of this song looked weird in English: “ETE HET GAY / ARMENIAN RAP / 2015”

It was obvious to me that at least the first two words were written in Armenian translit. But I was still not sure what it actually meant combined with the word “gay”. So I started watching (well, listening to), and everything became instantly clear. I burst into laughing.

Apparently, this guy, who uploaded his own music video, indicated his song’s title - which should read in English “If I were to come back” - in a weird Armenian (incorrect) translit, directly mirroring the way he speaks [a certain way that people in certain Armenian circles speak :))] and inadvertently turned his song into a ‘gay Armenian’ rap song.

Here we are, as of today, 7 days after uploading his music video, this guy still did not realise what his song’s title (the way he indicated it) really means in English :)) Or may be he did it intentionally?! I doubt it, but I am all smile writing this post.