After Armenia last month endorsed the UN statement against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the prevalent homophobia in society has resulted in strong criticism of the move from unexpected quarters. One of the most prolific bloggers on LGBT rights in the country and its Diaspora, as well as the South Caucasus in general, voices his concern.
In particular, while the government defends its move on the basis of human rights protection, one significant civil society activist and mother of the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) office in Armenia particularly irks the blogger with her statement that homosexuality is a threat to the country's development.
Unzipped: Gay Armenia responds in an extended post.
I was expecting negative reactions and attacks towards government for their signature. But I was not expecting this attack to come from […] Karine Danielyan, head of the association “For Sustainable Human Development”, whom I’ve always respected and regarded as an intelligent person.
She called homosexuality a “disease” and a “threat to the national security”. She has doctoral degree. She’s been working for years with UN agencies, other international organisations. […] She is not a random person whom journalists stopped in the street and asked a question about sexual orientation or gay rights.
[…] Number of gay people is not (and will not be) increasing, Dr. Danielyan. It’s just when the level of tolerance towards minorities increases in the society, they become more visible, they start living without hiding who they are, without living a double life which you presumably [are] more comfortable with.
[…] I would suggest all funding organisations which support Dr. Karine Danielyan’s NGO to withdraw or freeze their support conditional to her passing equality training. Dr. Danielyan urgently needs one.
The blogger also notes that despite the fact that some of Armenia's most important cultural icons were gay, Danielyan went on to accuse homosexuality of threatening local culture and society. The blog responds to other inaccuracies made during the press conference as well as conspiracy theories about plans to destroy not only Armenia, but also the world.
There was another person at the media club. Infamous ex-environmentalist Khachik Stamboltsyan. I am afraid, commenting his statements would be a complete waste of time as this guy turned itself into a clinical case full of manias. According to him, masons and gays together are in a plot to destroy the earth… […] I will stop here. It’s totally ludicrous.
The full extended post is here.
This is appalling. I think many of the diaspora Armenians have an irrationally optimistic longing to see our homeland Armenia as a fast growing, progressive and dynamic society that will surprise the world one day with the heights it reaches. Karine Danielyan’s comments are a hard slap of reality in the face of our optimism that shows how far away our country and some of its prominent figures are from reaching any heights at all in the world arena.
Yes, Areg, and there’s the rub. Rosy perception is easy, finding out what’s actually happening is harder, and unpleasant. Here’s another perspective on this issue, along with lots of other articles to read as well: