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!
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
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.
The mayor of the southern city of Montpellier, sometimes called “the French San Francisco,” intends to officiate at the first gay wedding, which is likely to be no sooner than May 29, because by French law an application for a marriage must be filed at City Hall 10 days before the ceremony itself.
“Love has won out over hate,” the mayor, Hélène Mandroux, a Socialist like Mr. Hollande, said Saturday. She has been pressing for a gay marriage law since 2009, while voicing concerns that the first such wedding could attract violent protests along with the inevitable and engineered publicity.
The government’s spokeswoman and minister for the rights of women, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, intends to attend.
One couple seeking to be the first to wed under the new law is Vincent Autin, 40, the president of Lesbian and Gay Pride Montpellier, and his partner of seven years, Bruno, 30. Bruno prefers not to provide his surname because he works for the state, though the couple has been featured on television, in newspapers and magazines.
France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage. In the United States, Washington, D.C., and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.
For Mr. Hollande, who is riding low in the opinion polls, the passage of the law over considerable public opposition was a significant victory, given his campaign promise to legalize gay marriage within the first year of his administration (Saturday was within days of his May 15 anniversary in office).
But considering the opposition and significant economic problems in France, now in a triple-dip recession, Mr. Hollande also wants to move on to other important and controversial changes in the structure of the French economy, including pension changes and spending cuts.
Mr. Hollande signed the bill a day after the Constitutional Council dismissed a legal challenge by the right-wing opposition. “I will ensure that the law applies across the whole territory, in full, and I will not accept any disruption of these marriages,” he said.
Gay rights advocates praised the law, while a watchdog group, SOS Homophobie, said that France “has taken a great step forward today, although it is regrettable that it was taken in a climate of bad faith and homophobic violence.”
Protests against the law, led by religious leaders and conservative groups, drew hundreds of thousands of people at their height, with scattered violence on the margins. Opponents of the measures have vowed to fight on, having already called another protest for May 26. There was a small protest Friday night near the historic Pantheon, in the Latin Quarter.
The law allows all married couples to adopt children. It does not provide state aid to help same-sex couples procreate, however.
The leader of the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, Jean-François Copé, told the newspaper Le Monde on Saturday that if the right returned to power (which is hardly imminent), it would “rewrite” the measure to clarify the legal descent of children adopted by gay couples and to “better protect the rights of children.”
He said he disagreed with the law as it stood but respected the decision of the Constitutional Council. “It is a decision that I regret but that I accept,” he said Friday.
Mr. Copé said he would attend the May 26 demonstration, which he hoped would broadly include all those disappointed with Mr. Hollande’s leadership. He called on them to turn their unhappiness into political commitment.
Source: New York Times
Following the second set of semi-finals last night, Finland’s Eurovision entrant Krista Siegfrids found herself with a place in the final, following her performance of her pro-equal marriage song, which included a lesbian kiss.
Siegfrids insisted that her song ‘Marry Me’ was not political, but did go on to say that she did want to make a statement about the lack of legal recognition of same-sex marriages in Finland. Organisers forbid “lyrics, speeches, gestures of a political or similar nature”.
When an interviewer asked how Siegfrids thought viewers in countries such as Belaruse and Azerbaijan might react to her performance she said: ”I think that everybody should have the right to do that. It’s no big deal, it’s not big deal to me. It’s a show, and it’s about love and love is beautiful in any form.”
The TRT station claimed that the cancellation of the broadcast was due to low ratings, but last year a quarter of Turkish households tuned in to watch.
All Out has launched a petition urging the President of the European Broadcasting Union to address the issue, and to ensure that Eurovision would “uphold the values of unity and love”, as opposed to censoring Krista’s performance.
“All Out members are not fooled by Turkey’s weak excuse,” Andre Banks Co-founder and Executive Director of All Out said, “It is clear to the world that Turkey pulled the popular Eurovision show simply because two women expressed love through a kiss. Nothing could be more harmless than a kiss between two people.”
“The Eurovision kiss was not revolutionary. Turkish people already saw a kiss between two women on television. Two women kissed during the 2012 Olympics and that kiss was broadcast on Turkish TV,” Andre Banks said, “The world kept turning and the sun came up the next day. Love should never be feared, it is censorship we should fear.”
Source: Pink News
Uruguayan lawmakers voted Wednesday to legalize same-sex marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so, after Canada and Argentina. President José Mujica, whose governing Broad Front majority backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days.
Source: New York Times
A Mararaba in Nasarawa State, Northern Nigeria ordered three men accused of gay sex to be remanded in prison and await a possibly judgment of up to 14 years in jail for their ‘offence’.
The News Agency of Nigeria named the accused as Armstrong Ihua, 40, of Ikorodu, Lagos State; Collins Ejike, 30, of Lugbe, Abuja, and Pius Bamayi, 25, of Masaka, Nasarawa State.
They pleaded not guilty to the charge.
According prosecutor Stephen Kwaza, Ihua and Ejike lured Bamayi under false pretenses to Ihua’s room in a local hotel to smoke Indian hemp.
When Bamayi fell asleep, the other two men started having sex, and then removed his trousers and attempted to performed fellatio on him.
He said the act woke Bamayi up, who hit Ihua with his elbow, causing commotion ‘alerting’ staff at the Luna Gest Inn, where the men have been staying.
The case was reported to the police by staff, Pius Bamayi and Patrick Okorie who work at the Luna Guest Inn, in Mararaba, on 31 March.
Kwaza stated that the ‘unnatural offence’ contravened the provisions of Section 284 of the Penal Code.
Section 284, which applies to the Northern States of Nigeria, provides that:
‘Whoever has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man [or] woman ... shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall also be liable to fine’.
He also demanded the judge does not grant the accused bail, so further ‘investigation’ could be carried out.
Despite pleads by defense lawyer, Messrs Charles Maduewyi, Momoh Mohammed and Gabriel Okpake for bail, Judge Vincent Gwahemba, refused the accused bail ordering the accused be remanded in prison.
He adjourned the case to April 23 for further hearing.
But the Nigerian LGBT rights activists have been warning that such cases are often more a result of the laws against gay people being used to extract blackmail and bribes.
Adebisi Alimi, a Nigerian LGBT rights advocate told Gay Star News: ‘The Nigerian news reporting not only does not do its job investigating a story but aid to spread moral panic and misinformation about cases, that most of the time, are set ups.
‘This usually involves unpaid blackmail fees by gay people, or a group of guys ganging up against someone they know is gay as the law puts LGBT people in Nigeria at risk of precisely such acts’.
Alimi further stressed that this not only biases justice and inflames public opinion but further puts LGBT Nigerians in danger: ‘The increasing arrest of LGBT people and subsequent outing in the Nigerian media is of high concern and very worrying.
‘Naming of people and using their pictures without yet being convicted of a crime is not just destroying their lives and that of their family, but it is a pure violation of their fundamental human rights to privacy.
‘It seems Nigerian press is waging war against LGBT people just like the media in Britain was over 40 years ago and though I am sure this is a battle we will win. The harmful thing will be the many lives that would have been destroyed along the way’.
Source: Gay Star News
Tuesday will be the first of two days of oral arguments on the issue. On Wednesday, the court will consider the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which limits the definition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.
Rulings in both cases are expected by the end of June.
In what is scheduled to be about three hours of deliberations with lawyers over the two days, the justices will have their say on what gay activists see as a key civil rights issue reminiscent of famous Supreme Court cases of the past, including Loving v. Virginia, a 1967 case in which the court invalidated bans on interracial marriage.
The cases come before the high court at a time when more states have legalized gay marriage. Last year three more - Maryland, Maine and Washington - did so, bringing the total to nine plus the District of Columbia.
"Never before in our history has a major civil rights issue landed on the doorstep of the Supreme Court with this wave of public support," said Theodore Boutrous, a lawyer for opponents of the California initiative, which is known as Proposition 8.
Strong opposition to gay marriage still exists, however, both among Republicans in Congress and in many states across the nation. A total of 30 states, including California, have constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage. Nine states, including California, recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships among same-sex couples.
Advocates for both sides plan to demonstrate outside the multi-columned Washington courthouse. Those who plan to attend include Chief Justice John Roberts' cousin Jean Podrasky, a lesbian from California who would like to marry her partner.
"There's no fundamental right to same sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution," said Austin Nimocks, a member of the legal team arguing in support of the California law.
Some legal experts think that with the issue unsettled in the states, a majority of the justices might not be inclined to make any sweeping pronouncements on the issue as the democratic process plays out.
There are various ways in which they could do that as the Proposition 8 case presents the justices with multiple options.
The justices could proclaim that gay marriage bans are constitutionally unsound. They could uphold Proposition 8 as a law with a legitimate purpose that was approved by a majority of voters in California. They could also plot a middle path by striking down the law without making any broad pronouncements about whether gay marriage bans in other states that have them should be struck down.
Another way the court could rule might be viewed as an anticlimax of sorts: The justices could simply decide that it cannot rule on the merits because of the procedural complexities that brought the case to the high court.
The state of California declined to support Proposition 8 when the plaintiffs filed suit in 2009 in a federal district court in San Francisco, meaning there was no party defending the law until its proponents entered the case. The federal judge struck the law down, a ruling that was upheld by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
A Supreme Court decision concluding that the law's backers do not have legal standing to defend the law would wipe out the appeals court decision, but leave the district court decision that struck down Proposition 8 on the books.
The way the justices rule could depend in large part on the likely swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although a conservative appointed by President Ronald Reagan, Kennedy has in the past authored two opinions that expanded gay rights.
Lawyers representing two same-sex couples in California who want to marry are hoping the justices will go big and are making the most sweeping arguments.
The counsel for Kris Perry and Sandy Stier and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo will argue that under the U.S. Constitution's equal protection guarantee, there is a fundamental right for people to marry someone of the same sex.
Kris Perry, who has raised four children with her partner, Sandy Stier, was hopeful and optimistic.
"We have been waiting for a long time to get married," she said last week. "We are very excited to have the end in sight."