January 28, 2009

Open Letter Against Intolerance

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After the government in Armenia signed the UN declaration against discrimination based on sexual orientation in December 2008, we have witnessed a resurgence of hostile rhetoric against homosexuals both in official and oppositional media. Many media outlets publish professionally unqualified articles, which at best resemble neighborhood gossips. This phenomenon could have been overlooked if the danger of mass media becoming a platform to disseminate hatred and intolerance did not exist. These publications do not even demonstrate elementary journalistic professionalism and lack any kind of homework or research. Questions, such as what is homosexuality? Who are the homosexuals in Armenia? How do they live? Are they different from larger society (even though the answers to these questions are never simple and straightforward), are never asked?

Even though the general absence of any desire to ask fundamental questions about homosexuality, male homosexuality in Armenia has been consistently described as a threat to national security, a result of accepting European decadent values or a pathology and disease, while homosexual women have been denied of existence all together or condemned in not fitting into the image of a “proper” Armenian woman.

Some of the most recent publications which disseminate hatred towards homosexuals and can potentially become a source of violence, include the article “Armenian lesbians are becoming more active” in Aravot daily (Jan. 22, 2009, http://new.aravot.am/am/articles/culture/54469/view); an interview with the rising star of the Republican Party Edward Shahmazanov in the same newspaper, in which the prominent politician claims that he is anti-gay; and the following statement by the head of the “Sustainable Human Development” agency in Armenia Karine Danielyan: “It’s been always considered that 4-5% of humanity has such pathologies…these should be regarded as a disease.”
We believe that such statements are largely a result of illiteracy in issues of homosexuality which is reflected upon the prevalent obsession to defend the patriarchal structure of society and to present it as a national value. Nevertheless, we also realize that such statements uttered by prominent public figures and politicians could be received by mainstream society as the state official policy. Thus, several civil society groups and individuals, concerned with these developments, strongly condemn the statements which disseminate hatred and intolerance. Before inflicting potentially violent rhetoric, such public figures should realize that they have a responsibility towards larger society and towards its sexual minorities as well, including their safety and well-being.

We urge all officials, politicians, journalists, teachers, doctors and all those who are engaged in public work as well as each and every individual, to get acquainted with problems that homosexual men and women face in Armenia, their socially active initiatives and to the contemporary debates around gender and sexuality.

Please, sign this petition on http://www.queeringyerevan.blogspot.com/. We appreciate further comments and suggestions.


Signed,
WOW – Women-Oriented Women (queeringyerevan.blogspot.com)
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Women’s Resource Center
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Anna Barseghian, director of Utopiana Association, cultural practitioner, mother of two children
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Stefan Kristensen, PhD in Philosophy, father of two children
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Unzipped: Gay Armenia (gayarmenia.blogspot.com), (unzipped.blogspot.com)
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PINK Armenia (pinkarmenia.blogspot.com)
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Transgenders in Armenia (trans-armenia.blogspot.com)
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Onnik Krikorian, journalist/photojournalist (oneworld.am)
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Robyn Pirckens, art curator
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Myrthe Korf, human rights activist & human being (armenianodar.blogspot.com)
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ILGA-Europe (ilga-europe.org)
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Edgar H. Manukyan, MD, MS, Assistant Professor
Department of Dermatology, STIs and Cosmetology
Yerevan State Medical University
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The Cali Garmo (thecaligarmo.com)
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Tatevik Tuniyants, lunguist, Area Studier, MD
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Sergey Gabrielyan, New Generation NGO Armenia
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Guarantee NGO Armenia
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Jirair Ratevosian, MPH, United States field coordinator for the Health Action AIDS Campaign of Physicians for Human Rights (physiciansforhumanrights.org/hiv-aids)
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Queers United (queersunited.blogspot.com)
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David Hayrapetyan, executive director, "New Vision to Democracy" NGO, Ijevan
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Micha Meroujean, founder of Yesoudo.com
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Mikael Danielyan, Helsinki Association
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Paata Sabelashvili, President, Inclusive Foundation, Republic of Georgia
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Trevor Cook, ILGA International (ilga.org)
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Dikran Safarian
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Tazo Kupreishvili, Journalist, Blogger, Republic of Georgia
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Clare Dimyon, MSc (BEd), Educator, UK
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Helene Hazera, transwoman, radio producer for France-Culture, France
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Ksenia Kirichenko, Legal Assistance Program Coordinator, Russian LGBT-Network
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Karine Nazaretyan, Journalist, Akzia Newspaper (Russia)

***

24 comments:

  1. You can add me as well.

    Onnik Krikorian, journalist/photojournalist
    http://www.oneworld.am

    ReplyDelete
  2. Add my name to the list as well, please.

    Myrthe Korf, human rights activist & human being (armenianodar.blogspot.com).

    ReplyDelete
  3. Please add ILGA-Europe to this list

    Beth Fernandez, Programmes and Policy Officer, ILGA-Europe

    ReplyDelete
  4. --
    Regards,
    Edgar H. Manukyan, MD, MS
    Assistant Professor, Department
    of Dermatology, STIs and Cosmetology
    Yerevan State Medical University
    phone: (+37494) 121405
    fax: (+37410) 392966
    email: armenic@gmail.com
    Web: http://users.freenet.am/~skinsti/

    ReplyDelete
  5. Signed and supported fully by The Cali Garmo as well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. ADd me to the list, pleaseeeeeeee

    Best regards
    Tatevik Tuniyants
    Lunguist, Area Studier MD
    ttatevik@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sergey Gabrielyan - New Generation NGO Armenia

    ReplyDelete
  8. Guarantee NGO Armenia

    ReplyDelete
  9. Queers United
    http://www.queersunited.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. It's funny how you can only file a complaint if your rights are being violated "by any agency of the state or local government, and their officials." But not if your rights are violated by an individual? Or an organization that is not necessarily an "agency of the state or local government"?

    Հայաստանի Հանրապետության Մարդու Իրավունքների Պաշտպանը գրում է իրանց site-ում:

    "Պաշտպանին կարելի է բողոքել, եթե Ձեր իրավունքները խախտվել են պետական կառավարման, տեղական ինքնակառավարման մարմինների և դրանց պաշտոնյաների կողմից:"

    Uremn yete Aravot@ bedakan journal chi, vonc garox enq timel Hayastani Hanrapetutyan Mardu Iravunkneri Bashdban@ u lur dal vor mer iravunkner@ khakhdvelen? Bashdban@ vonc vor miain hetaqrqrvac a en boxoknerin vor@ gabvac en bedakan garavarman yev "dexakan inknagaravarman marminneri" het: Isk yete mi hoqi kam mi miutiun mer iravunkner@ khakhdum a, menq um garox enq boxokel et barakayum?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Also we have to know what is telling article 14.1 of our constitution (from http://gayarmenia.blogspot.com)
    ---------------------------
    Constitution of RA

    Article 14.1 Everyone shall be equal before the law.
    Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or other personal or social circumstances shall be prohibited.
    ---------------------------
    ՀՀ սահմանադրությունը

    Հոդված 14.1. Բոլոր մարդիկ հավասար են օրենքի առջեւ:
    Խտրականությունը, կախված սեռից, ռասայից, մաշկի գույնից, էթնիկական կամ սոցիալական ծագումից, գենետիկական հատկանիշներից, լեզվից, կրոնից, աշխարհայացքից, քաղաքական կամ այլ հայացքներից, ազգային փոքրամասնությանը պատկանելությունից, գույքային վիճակից, ծնունդից, հաշմանդամությունից, տարիքից կամ անձնական կամ սոցիալական բնույթի այլ հանգամանքներից, արգելվում է:

    ReplyDelete
  12. one more, please, our best partner from Ijevan is signing this
    David Hayrapetyan, executive director, "New Vision to Democracy" NGO

    tomorrow if you can wait till 12, hope Helsinki Association will join us, cause Michael Danielyan couldn't manage to read this and he can do it tomorrow arround 11am

    thanks

    ReplyDelete
  13. May I join, too ?
    Micha Meroujean, (founder Yesoudo.com)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Helsinki Association

    ReplyDelete
  15. Please add my Signiture

    Paata Sabelashvili
    President,
    Inclusive Foundation, Georgia

    ReplyDelete
  16. ILGA International - www.ilga.org (different from ILGA-Europe) also joined but I guess they are late, anyway we know that they are with us:)
    ----------------
    From Trevor Cook:
    I tried to sign the petition online but I could not find how to do it. In any case, ILGA is willing to sign the petition.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Count me in!
    Dikran Safarian
    GAY ARMENIAN

    ReplyDelete
  18. http://deciloquequierass.blogspot.com/

    Good Bloog my friend!! Congratulations!!

    good luck!! See you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Tazo kupreishvili/Georgia
    Journalist, Blogger

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent description. Please add my name: Clare Dimyon MSc (BEd) Educator (UK). Enormous damage is done to young people by such negative and ill-informed comments. This damage is primarily to young LGBT people but there is also educational and psychological damage to young people who acquire these attitudes as well as the damage to the fabric of the society in which these attitudes persist.

    ReplyDelete
  21. add me please
    Helene Hazera
    transwoman, radio producer for France-Culture in France.
    Gay filmaker Paradjanov did more for Armenia than those nationalistic diplodocus.He was even put in jail for homosexuality!

    ReplyDelete
  22. if it's not too late
    ***
    Ksenia Kirichenko,
    Legal Assistance Program Coordinator
    Russian LGBT-Network

    ReplyDelete
  23. Please add me, too:
    Karine Nazaretyan, journalist, Akzia Newspaper (Russia)

    ReplyDelete