The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS), based in Los Angeles, California, is shocked and disturbed by recent acts of hate targeting the gay and lesbian community of Armenia. On May 8, 2012, Molotov cocktails were used to fire-bomb DIY, a gay-friendly bar in the heart of Yerevan, Armenia. This violent act was captured on a nearby security camera, which shows several men vandalizing the building and throwing incendiary devices through the windows. Following this unfortunate event, a stream of acrimonious attacks occurred against the gay and lesbian community of Armenia on social media, namely Facebook and YouTube.
The Board of Directors and the membership of GALAS strongly condemn these hateful attacks, clear examples of discrimination, and oppression based solely on a person’s sexual orientation.
The response by members of The Armenian Parliament has been equally atrocious. Artsvik Minasyan, who represents the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), posted bail for one of the suspects who were charged with the fire-bombing. Afterwards, Minasyan said to Panorama news agency that the suspects “…acted the right way, in context of our societal and national ideals.” We reject his actions and call upon the Armenian Parliament and Dashnaktsutyun to reprimand Minasyan and condemn his actions. Furthermore, we seek his immediate resignation or removal from office for his incitement of homophobia, and his endorsement of hate crimes. We further request a statement from the Armenian Parliament and the Dashnaktsutyun stating that neither organization will stand by those who foster hate and intolerance. Let not those who have faced the reality of intolerance and hatred inflict it upon others, no matter what the “context of our societal and national ideals.”
For the same reasons, GALAS is calling for the immediate resignation or dismissal of Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesperson for Armenia’s ruling Republican Party and Parliament Vice Speaker who told Hayots Ashkharh newspaper that, “As an Armenian citizen and member of [the ruling] national-conservative party, I find the rebellion of the two young Armenian people against the homosexuals … completely right and justified…”
GALAS denounces these reprehensible statements made by officials that fuel discrimination and unjustified crimes against innocent people. Citizens must hold their elected officials accountable for their irresponsible rhetoric that creates hatred and fear, and leads to disastrous consequences.
GALAS stands united with its gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, and all who care for justice and a free society, one that is a model of tolerance and mutual respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society of Los Angeles is a federally recognized 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. Comprised of members of the Armenian community, its mission is to foster acceptance and promote equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Armenians. www.galasla.org