Bigots on Baghramian?: Parliament Members Continue Gay Debate
By Julia Hakobyan
Leaving behind an agenda of top issues such as
corruption, poverty, constitutional reform and the debatable value of sending
Armenian troops to Iraq the National Assembly of Armenia continues its “He
Is Gay” sessions, which have turned from accusation to slander and from
debates to skirmishes.
Prompted by the announcement of the nationalistic
Armenian-Aryan Order that some Armenian top officials are gay, Deputy Hakob
Hakobyan last week publicly called fellow MP Mher Shahgeldyan a homosexual,
saying that he can present proof. Later, Hakobyan announced that his house had
been fired upon by a gang retaliating for Shahgeldyan.
In rhetoric laced with hate and hardly befitting
lawmakers of a democratic republic, Members of Parliament have said that any
member found to be gay should resign – an opinion shared by the Presidential
Advisor for National Security Garnik Isagulyan. (click here for related story)
One female MP, Alvard Petrosyan told Aravot daily that,
as a “normal” woman she is afraid of homosexuals, calling them
“enemies” of women.
While the Armenian officials speculate the issue of
homosexuality as hot political argument and debate it from the point of view
of morality and political ineligibility, Armen Avetisyan the Chairman of
Armenian Aryan Order (AAO) says he and his supporters continue making a list
of homosexual politicians.
Last month Avetisyan announced that he possessed
photographic and video materials proving that some Armenian ministers are
homosexual. Avetisyan said the announcement was made in order to make
homosexual officials themselves leave their posts; otherwise he would publish
the names before the end of the year.
Avetisyan says he is not surprised that his announcement
turned into scandal.
“It’s only the beginning,” Avetisyan told
ArmeniaNow. “You will see what happens if the list of homosexual officials
is published. Our nation can reconcile itself to a life of poverty but it will
never allow itself to be ruled by a group of sexual perverts”
Avetisyan, 41, is a veteran of the Karabakh war and
founded AAO in 1993 to advocate for native Armenian values, such as culture,
history and family. According to Ministry of Justice data, the political party
has about 35 registered members.
Avetisyan says that the name of his organization has
nothing to do with fascism ideology and that the word “Aryan” simply has
the Armenia “Ar” prefix.
“Our mission is to revive Armenian values,” he says.
“Today we see how a group of rascals ruin our country and have to make them
leave first their posts, and then leave the country.”
Before taking up the campaign against gays, Avetisyan –
whose clout, previously, was minimal at best – had vocally opposed the
introduction of Social Security Cards. He claims that the country is being run
by Masons who blackmail homosexual politicians into making laws that suit the
Confronted with whether his actions violate human rights,
Avetisyan says national rights are above everything else.
“Some people accuse us of interfering in people’s
private lives,” he says. “Is a person protected in Armenia only because he
is a homosexual? What about thousands of unprotected Armenians, disabled,
veterans of war, orphans, people who are being beaten, killed, humiliated,
starved. Who advocates for their rights? We have to think about our children,
because by accepting homosexuals we threaten our children’s future.” (Avetisyan
himself is father of three.)
While some view Avetisyan’s declaration as a
self-aggrandizing drama, others are concerned more with the reaction of the
Armenian elite and governing authorities.
Micha Meroujean, the Chairman of AGLA France (Association
of Gay and Lesbian Armenians of France) says he finds it revolting that not a
single politician, humanitarian activist, intellectual or media outlet has
condemned Avetisyans announcement.
“I wonder if the parliamentarians and government
officials would have been so enthusiastic and determined if someone came out
to publish a list of ‘Most Corrupted Politicians in Armenia,” Meroujean
Meroujean says that when the Council of Europe demanded
that Armenia abolish its law making homosexuality a crime, it was supposed
that Armenia would no longer discriminate against gays. But today, he says,
Armenia remains a homophobic state.
“Avetisyan represents the extreme right movement. He is
a political go-getter, a bigot who speculates on nationalistic sentiments by
spreading hatred,” says Meroujean, who lives in Paris. “The Armenian
Constitution does not say that gays do not have a right to work in public
office. What I conclude is that this scenario drives homogeneous Armenia to a
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