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Outrage Over Russian Anti-Gay Law Halts Similar Bill In Armenia

While public and international outrage surrounding Russia's institutionalized homophobia doesn't seem to faze president Vladimir Putin, or any other member of the Russian government, human right activists still have reason to celebrate. Thanks to an unexpected victory in Armenia, we now have evidence that the boycotts, demonstrations, and protests have not been entirely in vain. 

Late last week, the national police withdrew a bill it had previously submitted to the Armenian government, banning any public promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships”. Sound familiar at all? While authorities has claimed that they did not wish to intentionally terget any sexual minorities, they nevertheless felt a desire to protect “the model of the traditional Armenian family” against “phenomena alien to national Armenian mentality.” reports that

"Ashot Aharonian, a police spokesman, insisted that the bill was not withdrawn under domestic or foreign pressure. He said the Armenian police chief, Vladimir Gasparian, ordered its removal from the agenda because of its “shortcomings” exposed by critics and the fact that the issue is not a top priority for the police at the moment."

AGLANYMamikon Hovsepian, the head of PINK Armenia, remains unconvinced, saying that "This is definitely the shadow of Russia. We live in Russia’s shadow." Another campaigner, Sevak Kirakosian, speculates that "the police are trying to improve their reputation in the people’s eyes." 

Despite the bill's withdrawal, many in Armenia support the idea of some sort of ban on public displays of homosexuality. One such group is the Armenian Organization for Constitutional Rights Defense, who insist that laws such as the one in Russia do not infringe upon people's human rights. “Nobody wants to prevent anybody from having such a lifestyle,” it said in a statement. “But there are many people who do not want this lifestyle to be imposed on them and their children watching television.”

Armenia was one of the many former-Soviet nations to decriminalize homosexuality in the 1990's. Unfortunately, not many legal protections exist at all for LGBT people in the Eastern-European nation, which also possesses a rather LGBT-intolerant culture. 

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  1. Armenians tend to be Eastern Orthodox, so you can bet that this legislation was and is supported by the Armenian Orthodox Church. Armenians have suffered historically because of Russian hegemony, and this may have caused "second thoughts".

    Posted by: Joseph | Aug 19, 2013 1:38:45 PM

  2. "many people who do not want this lifestyle to be imposed on them".

    How are we "imposing" our "lifestyle" on them? Are we forcing them to have queer sex? To move in with a gay couple and redecorate? What exactly is the problem? Perhaps, despite the fact that the LGBT community has to stoically endure all manner of in-your-face promotion of the heterosexual "lifestyle", what they consider "imposing" is hearing or seeing any indication that we exist at all, let alone expect to be treated as human beings with equal rights.

    Posted by: RWG | Aug 19, 2013 2:56:13 PM

  3. It is so laughable that all this “it is alien to our culture” speech is used in spite of the existence of their own sexual minorities, as if they were transplanted from anywhere else. Homosexuality is in every culture, it is not a fad or an ideology. What changes is just the way the behave with their fellow countrymen; they just want to ignore and/or persecute them.

    Posted by: SAYTHETRUTH | Aug 19, 2013 5:04:17 PM

  4. Well, this certainly calls into question the notion that protesting against the Russian law was a big waste of time. Sounds like it was a damn good thing for Armenians that people protested. Keep up the pressure!

    Posted by: Charles | Aug 19, 2013 5:39:25 PM

  5. I'm glad something like this is making the news, because all along I've thought one of the biggest dangers might be that the Russian law would begin to spread to other Eastern European/Balkan countries, especially ones where the Orthodox Church wields influence. Remember what happened in Montenegro a month ago.

    Posted by: Fox | Aug 19, 2013 6:00:21 PM

  6. Armenians who suffered a holocaust at the hands of the Muslim Turks in the early 1900's should be sensitive to the horror of bigotry and intolerance. Unlike the Germans who have apologized in word and deed for their holocaust, the Turks still proclaim their innocence.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 19, 2013 9:26:18 PM

  7. I thought whites were more accepting? another myth shot down, I guess....

    Posted by: TheSupremes | Aug 19, 2013 10:33:28 PM

  8. Pressure (inside out, or outside in... isolate (money withdrawn, loss of favorable relations with other countries, etc.)... reform (either do what is right or, at least, avoid doing what is moronic and destructive). I hope, for Armenia, that injustice delayed is a future equality assured for all.

    Posted by: Koskalaka Maricón | Aug 20, 2013 5:27:17 PM

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