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Cruel realities of Armenian society

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Old 22 May 12, 15:05   #1 (permalink)
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Post Cruel realities of Armenian society


I just heard about a parade that took place yesterday to promote diversity that went awry when the participants, some of whom happened to be homosexual, were harassed and even attacked by nationalist youth. In Armenia, gay bashing is a normal thing.


As yet another paradox, Armenian politicians defend the actions of homophobes, [...]

I just heard about a parade that took place yesterday to promote diversity that went awry when the participants, some of whom happened to be homosexual, were harassed and even attacked by nationalist youth. In Armenia, gay bashing is a normal thing.

As yet another paradox, Armenian politicians defend the actions of homophobes, claiming that homosexuals are defaming Armenian society and values and that something should be done about it, to paraphrase. As has been reported repeatedly in the news, two National Assembly members representing the socialist ARF-Dashnaktsutyun party made public statements to that effect, defending their decisions to bail out two vandals who bombed a bar called DIY on May 8, a place where socialize. The spokesman of the Republican party even came out and said that homosexuals “are perverting our society, are defaming the Armenian national identity.” According to a survey conducted last year by Public Information and Need for Knowledge (PINK), out of 1189 people surveyed 72 percent believe that the government needs to do more to crack down on homosexuals. Like it’s their frigging business. It was only in 2003 when the law making homosexuality a criminal offense was overturned. And if you claim to be gay you can avoid military service since you are considered to be “mentally ill.”

This is the same society in which young women, to preserve their “virginity,” commonly agree to be sodomized by their suitors to demonstrate their love and dedication to their men. Meanwhile, you see young guys holding hands, kissing and caressing each other in plain daylight, calling each other what would be translated as sweetie or baby — they are straight, although if you didn’t understand the perplexing youth culture here you would think that they were indeed gay. The hypocrisy of the majority in Armenia is really appalling.

There were videos of the parade and protests against it on the Internet, which showed chaotic scenes and it wasn’t clear at first who was on what side until I read an explanation from my cousin Haig as well as some news reports. To shed light on the situation he wrote “Today is International World Cultural Diversity Day. So www.pinkarmenia.org along with some other organizations held a Diversity March. This was interpreted as a gay parade and these cavemen showed up singing old Armenian revolutionary songs and started harassing the marchers calling them names and spitting on them and even attacking them physically. They kept chanting ’send the fags to Baku’ and ‘you’re not Armenians’ and ‘you are Turks’. Then they blocked off the final end location of the march” which was the Painters’ Union on Abovyan Street.

DIY was (and hopefully will be again) a place for people of diverse interests, including homosexuals, to gather, where people could interact, to exchange ideas, to have a drink or two. Why anyone would take offense to that is beyond the limits of logical, modern thinking. It is no one’s business who goes in there and for what purpose. The other night I happened to walk by there and saw swastikas and even the Republican party emblem spray-painted on the wall.

I remember when a gay bar opened just across the street from where I used to live on Nalbandian Street, near the metro (the building houses a bank now). There were scuffles out front almost nightly, with shouting back and forth and even blows exchanged. The police would come to break things up but infrequently.

Armenia is in a perpetual identity crisis. While it aspires to be a European nation, society by and large has no tolerance for diversity, and politicians unabashedly encourage hate crimes. And people who know better, who understand the importance of diversity regardless of their own sexual preference, want to leave. They have no hope that prejudices will ever wane. Judging from what I saw in the online videos the country is seemingly leaning towards becoming (or has already become, depending on how you look at things) an absolute autocratic state, with all its paradoxes and insecurities firmly in place. That’s a scary thing to contemplate.


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