Sunday 21 June 2015

US country musician Steve Grand with Armenian flag during EuroPride in Riga

It was a pretty historic event - the EuroPride that took place in Riga on 20 June. Latvia is currently hosting the EU presidency, and this was the first EuroPride in the ex-Soviet state.

However, Latvia has yet lots to do in order to embrace fully human rights for all. According to ILGA-Europe press release:
…the country is on a cross road between embracing the fundamental principles of the European Union and advancing the human rights of LGBTI people or slipping back into the past and mirroring by its eastern neighbours and introducing discriminatory and oppressive laws.

Just yesterday, the Latvian Parliament adopted a change in education law which prescribes ‘constitutional morality education’ to schoolchildren to ensure children are educated in line with the constitutional definition of marriage as union between a man and a woman. In effect such legislative change mirrors the infamous Russian law banning ’gay propaganda’ to minors. On the other hand, Latvia is in the midst of a very lively and positive debate of a gender neutral cohabitation law which is being championed by some mainstream politicians and gaining wider public support.

Moreover, as per ILGA-Europe Rainbow Europe Index, “Latvia has the lowest score among the EU Member States in terms of laws and policies affecting LGBTI people – only 18% equality achieved”.

One of the biggest flags one could spot during the EuroPride held in Riga was our Armenian tricolour.

And it’s great to see popular and pretty hot openly gay US country musician Steve Grand in Riga’s Euro Pride with Armenian flag

Re Steve Grand: “He became an overnight internet celebrity and was acclaimed by some to be the first openly gay male country musician to attract mainstream attention in the United States. The music video of his first hit "All-American Boy" went viral on YouTube in less than a week in July 2013.” (more on Wiki)

And below is a pic with rainbow flag that Steve Grand posted on his Instagram with the following comment: “#EuroPride in #Riga, #Latvia #USEmbassy It is an important time to be here for #pride. Grateful to be a part of the effort to further #equality in this part of the world”

Saturday 20 June 2015

Armenia activists challenge legal system and need your support - #HRArmList

The courts in Armenia legitimise ‘blacklists’. In fact, that’s not the only disappointing thing they do. Like many, I have little respect towards Armenian legal system that is not independent and marred with corruption, and with few exceptions, does what the ruling regime dictates. In the face of such backdrop, it’s even more important and encouraging that some activists, the bravest and the brightest, keep challenging the courts and status quo in Armenia.

And when active citizens challenge homophobia and bigotry of public figures, politicians, showbiz reps, media, they themselves turn into targets of abuse and hate propaganda.

For background to this story, read:

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

Tabloid of hate: virulent homophobia awarded by Armenia president’s state medal and stamped by court’s approval
“Effectively equaling hate speech to the “freedom of speech”, all court instances in the country rejected the collective claim of 16 people. The expressions made by the judges during the court hearings proved that they were biased towards the case, and the facts had very little to do with their judgement. As a result, not only did the claim of the citizens didn’t receive a fair treatment, but they also ended up with a heavy financial burden by the court verdicts. The court obliged the “blacklisted” citizens to reimburse the legal expenses of the very media outlet that promotes hatred and discrimination.”
These activists need your support. I am glad to see that after the first day of sharing this campaign on Twitter and Facebook, 50% of the target was achieved, and at time of writing this post - it reached 75%. Please donate and share:

*Twitter hashtag for this campaign is #HRArmList

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Intro: Armenian Feminist blog

Armenian Feminist blog was created by a group of feminists to raise awareness about women’s rights, gender equality and gender identity.

Its main aim is to reach out to the general public in Armenia, including the most remote areas, by making available important feminist texts in Armenian language.
Even with the vast information flow of the 21st century, there are still certain groups in Armenian society, which remain on the margins. Most often these are women who are cut off from the media and alternative modes of obtaining information about their rights, opportunities, etc.
Of course, it will be the most difficult to reach out to such groups, since if they are cut off from the alternative modes of obtaining information, then they would hardly read blogs.

The good news is that the authors of this blog started getting feedback and contributors from women in Armenian villages too. There is hope, afterwards. And this is a very encouraging sign, indeed.
This situation makes women more vulnerable to sustaining abusive relationships, dysfunctional family relations, abuse of their economic and political rights, etc. Even if these women have access to the media, the lack of coverage on topics that are considered taboo or irrelevant make these women subject to isolation, frustration, lack of acknowledgement. The general attitude of keeping quiet about taboo topics, which make people feel uncomfortable  contributes to the general attitude that there are no problems in society at all.
Along with translations, they make original postings and interviews too.

And the subjects of their posts are quite diverse: from Fem manifesto to domestic violence to problems facing by people with disabilities to the ways of dealing with menstruation among some transgender men.

I personally know the main creators behind this blog. Great bunch of people.

And if you wish to support their efforts, you may donate here.