This is the interview with Mamikon from the most popular organization who work in favor of LGBT rights in Armenia, Pink.
Hello, can we start the interview with general situation of LGBT people in Armenia. How is general life of LGBT people in Yerevan? Is there any difference between life in Yerevan for LGBT people and in smaller cities?
Life in Yerevan is a bit different than life generally in Armenia. Yerevan is the capital and people at least have some choice for spending time, going out in the evenings. But in smaller towns people almost know each other in their towns and especially for LGBT community life is more difficult. Even though homophobia, discrimination and violence toward LGBT people is unresolved issue for Armenia.
How is life in Armenia for Transsexuals?
Transsexual people in general are the most vulnerable and most targeted, they are not accepted even by gay and bisexual community. Transsexual people cannot openly show their identity and appear among society as they are. Officially there is no transsexual who changed his/her sex in Armenia.
How many NGO's are working on LGBT rights in Armenia?
Hard to say how many NGOs work on LGBT issues as not much is visible and you never know which organization is seriously working on health and rights issues of LGBT people. For example if you check which organizations are members of ILGA and then compare what has been done in Armenia you don’t see all those organizations role. The most visible organization in this case is PINK.
For sexual health beside PINK there are also 2 NGOs that work in Yerevan and in the regions for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.
Do LGBT people and LGBT rights NGOs have governmental support?
Government do not support and do not raise LGBT issues at all.
Is there any law against bullying or discrimination in favour of LGBT people in Armenia?
We don’t have law against hate speech, hate crime, bullying nor any anti-discrimination legislation.
Did you or people you know ever face sexual abuse or any kind of violence because of sexual orientation?
I myself not. But our organization, PINK has done a research where we found out that LGBT people face any kind of violence; also we have documentations on that.
How do police forces behave with LGBT people?
Police can easily violate LGBT people or even there were cases of blackmailing.
How about religious people and organization?
Armenian apostolic church promotes hate toward LGBT people and calls homosexuality as a sin, addiction or perversion.
You mentioned you don’t want to publish about yourself in media, but can you tell us, how did your friends, family and colleagues react when they found out about your sexual orientation?
All my friends and colleagues know about me. I came out to my friends in university, first. They were shocked but accepted me as I was. I didn't lose any of my friends for that reason as I have the most tolerant and clever friends. My parents also know about my orientation, though I don’t speak about it public.
Do you think having a gay parade pride is ever possible in Armenia?
I think everything is possible in Armenia but I don’t see a need for that yet. First of all we need to develop a strong movement and unity of LGBT community.
In 2012 we had diversity march which was actually not a gay pride and the participants were attacked by extremists.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
We need long way to go till acceptance and tolerance!
An analysis by the Pew Research Center of pooled data from the American Time Use Survey reveals that, although men and women spend roughly the same amount of time working each week, men tend to have more leisure time than women.
According to the analysis, men spend an additional five hours each week watching television, exercising and doing other activities geared toward relaxation and recreation. The gender gap among working parents is slightly smaller, but working fathers have an average of three more hours of leisure time than working mothers each week.
The difference, particularly among couples with children, may be explained by how men and women spend their free time. Free time between activities is more fractured and less likely to become leisure time for women, as Pew notes:
Fathers and mothers seem to experience their free time differently. Mothers’ free time is often interrupted, which may make it hard for them to relax (Bianchi, et al. 2006; Mattingly & Bianchi 2003). Moreover, mothers tend to spend more time than fathers in multitasking; the additional hours spent on multitasking are mainly related to time spent on housework and child care (Offer & Schneider 2011).
Interestingly, despite the gender gap in leisure time, men and women were equally likely to report feeling that they had enough free time to do the things they want to do. Perhaps not surprisingly, the parents of young children were the least likely to say they had enough free time for recreation and relaxation: 52 percent of these parents report feeling pressed for time, while 70 percent of adults without children (or with children over the age of 18) say they have enough free time to pursue their interests.
The most leisure-inclined group of all? Retirees. More than 80 percent of men and women over the age of 65 say they have enough free time to unwind and do their thing.
Humans could marry robots within the century. And consummate those vows.
"My forecast is that around 2050, the state of Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize marriages with robots," artificial intelligence researcher David Levy at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told LiveScience. Levy recently completed his Ph.D. work on the subject of human-robot relationships, covering many of the privileges and practices that generally come with marriage as well as outside of it.
At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, "but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot, and it was great!' appear someplace like Cosmo magazine, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," Levy said.
The idea of romance between humanity and our artistic and/or mechanical creations dates back to ancient times, with the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion falling in love with the ivory statue he made named Galatea, to which the goddess Venus eventually granted life.
This notion persists in modern times. Not only has science fiction explored this idea, but 40 years ago, scientists noticed that students at times became unusually attracted to ELIZA, a computer program designed to ask questions and mimic a psychotherapist.
"There's a trend of robots becoming more human-like in appearance and coming more in contact with humans," Levy said. "At first robots were used impersonally, in factories where they helped build automobiles, for instance. Then they were used in offices to deliver mail, or to show visitors around museums, or in homes as vacuum cleaners, such as with the Roomba. Now you have robot toys, like Sony's Aibo robot dog, or Tickle Me Elmos, or digital pets like Tamagotchis."
In his thesis, "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners," Levy conjectures that robots will become so human-like in appearance, function and personality that many people will fall in love with them, have sex with them and even marry them.
"It may sound a little weird, but it isn't," Levy said. "Love and sex with robots are inevitable."
Sex with robots in 5 years
Levy argues that psychologists have identified roughly a dozen basic reasons why people fall in love, "and almost all of them could apply to human-robot relationships. For instance, one thing that prompts people to fall in love are similarities in personality and knowledge, and all of this is programmable. Another reason people are more likely to fall in love is if they know the other person likes them, and that's programmable too."
In 2006, Henrik Christensen, founder of the European Robotics Research Network, predicted that people will be having sex with robots within five years, and Levy thinks that's quite likely. There are companies that already sell realistic sex dolls, "and it's just a matter of adding some electronics to them to add some vibration," he said, or endowing the robots with a few audio responses. "That's fairly primitive in terms of robotics, but the technology is already there."
As software becomes more advanced and the relationship between humans and robots becomes more personal, marriage could result. "One hundred years ago, interracial marriage and same-sex marriages were illegal in the United States. Interracial marriage has been legal now for 50 years, and same-sex marriage is legal in some parts of the states," Levy said. "There has been this trend in marriage where each partner gets to make their own choice of who they want to be with."
"The question is not if this will happen, but when," Levy said. "I am convinced the answer is much earlier than you think."
When and where it'll happen
Levy predicts Massachusetts will be the first jurisdiction to legalize human-robot marriage. "Massachusetts is more liberal than most other jurisdictions in the United States and has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage," Levy said. "There's also a lot of high-tech research there at places like MIT."
Although roboticist Ronald Arkin at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta does not think human-robot marriages will be legal anywhere by 2050, "anything's possible. And just because it's not legal doesn't mean people won't try it," he told LiveScience.
"Humans are very unusual creatures," Arkin said. "If you ask me if every human will want to marry a robot, my answer is probably not. But will there be a subset of people? There are people ready right now to marry sex toys."
The main benefit of human-robot marriage could be to make people who otherwise could not get married happier, "people who find it hard to form relationships, because they are extremely shy, or have psychological problems, or are just plain ugly or have unpleasant personalities," Levy said. "Of course, such people who completely give up the idea of forming relationships with other people are going to be few and far between, but they will be out there."
The possibility of sex with robots could prove a mixed bag for humanity. For instance, robot sex could provide an outlet for criminal sexual urges. "If you have pedophiles and you let them use a robotic child, will that reduce the incidence of them abusing real children, or will it increase it?" Arkin asked. "I don't think anyone has the answers for that yet — that's where future research needs to be done."
Keeping a robot for sex could reduce human prostitution and the problems that come with it. However, "in a marriage or other relationship, one partner could be jealous or consider it infidelity if the other used a robot," Levy said. "But who knows, maybe some other relationships could welcome a robot. Instead of a woman saying, 'Darling, not tonight, I have a headache,' you could get 'Darling, I have a headache, why not use your robot?' "
Arkin noted that "if we allow robots to become a part of everyday life and bond with them, we'll have to ask questions about what's going to happen to our social fabric. How will they change humanity and civilization? I don't have any answers, but I think it's something we need to study. There's a real potential for intimacy here, where humans become psychologically and emotionally attached to these devices in ways we wouldn't to a vibrator."
Levy is currently writing a paper on the ethical treatment of robots. When it comes to sex and love with robots, "the ethical issues on how to treat them are something we'll have to consider very seriously, and they're very complicated issues," Levy said.
Levy successfully defended his thesis Oct. 11.
Source: NBC News
The first gay couple to marry in France since the controversial same-sex marriage bill recently became law have said their vows.
The ceremony in the southern city of Montpellier could not be called intimate. The family and friends of the couple, Vincent Autin et Bruno Boileau, were joined by a horde of reporters and photographers.
The government’s spokeswoman was also on hand.
The ceremony, led by the Socialist major of Montpellier, was broadcast live on French TV.
Extra police were drafted in following fears that demonstrators from the extreme right might turn up.
“To all those who have fought for many years to bring France into the modern world, it is a fight that has been won,” Vincent told reporters. “It is a fight that has been well-fought.”
The mothers of the couple shared in their joy.
“If they decide to have a child, then this child will be very happy to live with two great fathers.” said one. “They make a good couple. They will be great parents because they are great people.”
Opinion polls suggest up to 60% of French people support gay marriage, but only about 50% approve of gay adoption.
France is now the 14th country to legalise gay marriage after New Zealand last month.
This was not an intimate ceremony, said euronews’ correspondent Francois Chignac. The question now is whether this union between two people of the same sex will put an end to the surrounding controversy, or whether it will further fan the flames.
Separately, the French police said they were continuing to search for the man responsible for stabbing a uniformed soldier in the neck on Saturday evening, an act that may have been inspired by the murder of a British soldier last week in retaliation for Western military intervention in Muslim countries.
The antigay marriage march occurred as a recent poll shows many French are losing patience with the protests against the “marriage for all” law that passed May 18. The demonstrations have broadened to include those angry at the president for his overall leadership and some far-right protesters who have been violent.
Marchers converged from three parts of Paris to the esplanade in front of the Invalides. There was a separate, smaller march by conservative Christians.
In general, the demonstrations against the law have included a combination of religious leaders and their followers, opposed to gay marriage on religious grounds, and more conservative French, many of them Roman Catholic, who believe that gay couples should have equal rights, but within an institution other than marriage. Many also object to the new ability of gay married couples to adopt children, arguing that a child should be raised by a man and a woman.
In the prelude to the protest, on Saturday night, 59 people were arrested after chaining themselves to metal barricades on the Champs-Élysées. On Sunday, 19 demonstrators were arrested after they climbed onto the headquarters of the Socialist Party and unfurled a banner demanding that President President François Hollande resign. Police officers also seized a van with masks, banners and smoke bombs, and near the end of Sunday’s demonstration, they used tear gas to break up a gathering of some masked protesters believed to be rightists known as “ultras.”
As an indication of the confusion around the focus of Sunday’s march, the main opposition party, the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, or UMP, was split on whether to join. The party’s president, Jean-François Copé, urged participation, while other party dignitaries, like former foreign minister, Alain Juppé, urged people to remain at home.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, a Socialist, accused the UMP of “sparking tension and radicalization.”
With much advance publicity, the first gay marriage is supposed to take place Wednesday in Montpellier, sometimes called the San Francisco of France.
The case of the wounded soldier, Pfc. Cédric Cordier, 23, is being handled by France’s antiterrorism court, officials said Sunday. He was stabbed in the back of the neck with a box cutter or short knife as he patrolled with two colleagues through the transport station of La Défense, a business area in a western suburb of Paris.
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the soldier in the hospital and said that he had been targeted because he was a soldier. Initial reports said that the assailant was a man of North African appearance, about 30 years old, with a small beard. By the time the two soldiers patrolling in front could react, the man had disappeared into a crowd.
Private Cordier was in stable condition at a military hospital; the knife missed his jugular vein, doctors said.
The police suggested on Sunday that the deed may have been inspired by the attack on a British soldier in a London street on Wednesday. A spokesman for the police union UNSA, Christophe Crépin, said there were similarities with the London attack. “I think this person wanted to imitate what happened in London,” he told TELE television.
But the interior minister, Manuel Valls, who ordered the terrorism investigation, said it was too early to determine the motivation for the attack because the police had yet to arrest a suspect or gather enough evidence to offer credible theories about what inspired it.
France has been on high alert since its military intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali in January. That prompted threats against French interests from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Source: New York Times
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who is also the co-head of an emerging nationalistic party, said his remarks two weeks ago rose from a "sense of crisis" about cases of sexual assaults by U.S. military personnel on Japanese civilians in Okinawa, where a large number of U.S. troops are based under a bilateral security treaty.
"I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. forces and to the American people" and was inappropriate, he said at a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Tokyo. "I retract this remark and express an apology."
Hashimoto had created an uproar with comments to journalists two weeks ago about Japan's modern and wartime sexual services. They added to recent anger in neighboring countries that suffered from Japan's wartime aggression and have complained about the lack of atonement for atrocities committed during that time.
Hashimoto said on May 13 that on a recent visit to the southern island of Okinawa, he suggested to the U.S. commander there that the troops there "to make better use" of the legal sex industry. "If you don't make use of those places you cannot control the sexual energy of those tough guys," he said.
He also said that Japan's wartime practice of forcing women from across Asia but mostly from South Korea and China to work in front-line brothels was necessary to maintain discipline and provide relaxation for soldiers.
He didn't apologize for those comments Monday, and insisted that Japan's wartime government did not systematically force girls and women into prostitution.
"If only Japan is blamed because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect," he said.
Hashimoto also urged the government to clarify Japan's landmark apology in a 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono, and clearly state that Japan's government did not systematically force women into prostitution for its wartime military. Hashimoto has previously supported the view by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government denying official proof of coercion but open to further investigation.
Before taking office in December Abe had advocated revising the Kono statement, but has said recently he stands by that statement and won't revise it.
He said the murkiness of the Kono statement has contributed to longstanding disputes between Japan and South Korea. "We should bring an end to irrational debate."
Hashimoto did call the use of so-called comfort women an "inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women, in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included."
Still, he claimed he had been quoted out of context to say that he personally believed that the use the system was necessary. He was trying to say that armed forces of nations around the world "seem to have needed women" in past wars and also violated women's human rights during wartime.
Singling out Japan was wrong, as this issue also existed in the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union during World War II, he alleged, without elaborating.
"Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of 'sex slaves' or 'sex slavery,'" Hashimoto said in the statement.
Hashimoto said any forms of sexual exploitation of women at conflict, whether it is commercial or military run, is inexcusable.,
Historians say up to 200,000 women, mainly from the Korean Peninsula and China, were forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers in military brothels. While some other World War II armies had military brothels, Japan is the only country accused of such widespread, organized sexual slavery.
Hashimoto, 43, has become well-known in recent years for his outspokenness. Last year, he formed a conservative party, the Japan Restoration Party, with former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, a strident nationalist. The party is now an opposition party in the parliament.
As a result of Zimbabwe’s repressive legislation, criminal charges are often brought against journalists just for doing their job. This has been seen yet again in recent cases of arrests and harassment.
The new constitution also opens the way for elections that have been awaited for years. President Mugabe wants them held as soon as possible and his party, Zanu-PF, thinks they could be held on 29 June. But the power-sharing government’s prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition MDC, wants several essential reforms adopted first, including media freedom reform.
“Aside from highlighting the disagreements and obstacles that have existed at the highest level ever since the power-sharing government’s formation four years ago, the conditions posed by Tsvangirai draw attention to the urgent need for news providers to be guaranteed the right to work freely and safely,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The new constitution is a step forward but no satisfactory, transparent election is possible if journalists are prevented from working properly. In both Harare and in the provinces, Zimbabwean journalists, especially those who work for the privately-owned media, are the victims of harassment campaigns while journalists with the state-owned media are controlled by the government.”
On World Press Freedom Day, on 3 May, Reporters Without Borders pointed out that Mugabe is still on its list of 39 “Predators of Freedom of Expression” and drew up an indictment accusing him of suppressing freedom of expression, exercising strict control over the state media, constantly harassing the print media and being the architect of an extremely repressive media legislation.Read the indictment.
Arrests and harassment
In one of the latest examples of abusive arrests, Dumisani Muleya, the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent weekly, Owen Gagare, one of his reporters, and the newspaper’s secretary were arrested on 7 May for publishing “lies” in a front-page story by Gagare in the 26 April issue.
All three were held for seven hours in a Harare police station before being released. The two journalists were interrogated about their sources for the story, which said Tsvangirai had met secretly with senior military officers ahead of the coming elections.
The police were meanwhile threatening another Zimbabwe Independent reporter, Dingilizwe Ntuli, with a jail sentence for an article criticizing Harare’s police chief.
The privately-owned newspaper NewsDay has also been the target of police harassment.Ropafadzo Mapimhidze, a NewsDay reporter based in Masvingo, 300 km south of Harare, was summoned and questioned by the local police in February about one of her articles.
Daily News editor Stanley Gama was summoned to Masvingo the following month and asked to reveal his sources for an article about a resumption of terrorist activities in the area. Gama is currently accused of libelling a Zanu-PF representative in a report about the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl.
Often threatened and interrogated and sometimes prosecuted, independent media personnel are hounded by the national police, the security forces and the Central Intelligence Organization, which follow orders from Mugabe and his aides.
Judicial dangers and repressive legislation
The two Zimbabwe Independent journalists have been formally charged by the police with “publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state,” which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the possibility of a heavy fine.
The criminal defamation legislation allows individuals to bring complaints against media and journalists before the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC), which monitors the media. Under the 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the ZMC can close media that act “imprudently.” This provision is above all used when journalists cover cases of alleged corruption.
Information minister Webster Shamu reiterated the government’s position on media freedom and the protection of journalists at a news conference at Zanu-PF headquarters on 10 May: “I want to repeat that this country came about through the barrel of a gun. It cannot be taken by a pen, never.”
Source: Reporters Without Border
Tuesday evening's vote was 13 to five. It came after one of the bill's eight sponsors, Democrat Patrick Leahy, withdrew an amendment that would have given same-sex couples the same legal protections in immigration questions as heterosexual couples.
Several conservative Republicans said they would pull their support for the immigration bill if this were included.
The committee approved other amendments, including one by Republican Orrin Hatch, raising the number of visas available to highly-skilled foreign workers.
The bill's core purpose is to give 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States the chance to become legal residents if they meet the bill's conditions.
President Barack Obama has called immigration reform one of his top priorities. He congratulated the Judiciary Committee for its vote, saying it is consistent with common sense reform.
He said no one got everything he wanted in the bill, but said the Senate owes it to the American people to get the best possible result.
Source: VOA News
Venner, 78, took his life inside Notre-Dame cathedral on May 21, reportedly in front of the altar.
Earlier the same day, the award-winning essayist published a blog post savaging the legalisation of homosexual marriage.
Venner also wrote that “spectacular and symbolic actions” were needed to wake up the French people.
Marine Le Pen of the National Front has hailed the suicide as a “political act”.
The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said: “Notre Dame is the cathedral of Paris, one of the capital’s and the country’s most beautiful monuments, so we realise how symbolic this event truly is.”
On the evening of the suicide, gay-rights supporters gathered in Paris’ Place de la Bastille for a live music event to celebrate the legalisation of same-sex marriages in France.