Armenia’s Liberalism Tested (and failed…)

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Armenia’s Liberalism Tested (and failed...)

In an attempt to bring some colour to the Armenian parliament, Lilit Martiosyan (Armenia’s first member of the LGBTI Community to speak to the parliament) spoke out against discrimination against the gay community. In her speech to the committee on human rights, she explained that trans people in Armenia are discriminated against in social, medical and legal ways and left unemployed, poor, and abandoned. In case it wasn’t clear Armenia doesn’t look fondly on non-straight people, she also expressed her solidarity with members of the LGBTI community who have been “tortured, raped, kidnapped, subjected to physical violence, burned, immolated, knifed, subjected to murder attempt, killed, emigrated and robbed”.

 

Less attentive MPs have responded in an angry fashion, even calling for her to be burned alive. But if words weren’t hurtful enough, the nationalists gathered outside her house raising Armenian flags will be. But in case you thought this has discouraged Lilit, she maintains “In the post-revolutionary Armenia, hate has no place”. Not convinced… 

 

Three days after the speech took place, crowds gathered in front of the Armenian parliament to hold up religious figures and suggest there be violent a repercussion for sexual minorities. Other, more measured, protesters thought it be best to consecrate (bless or make holy, in case you don’t speak old testament) the parliamentary floor to cleanse it after the speech defiled it. 

 

But, like any great statesman, the Prime Minister came to the rescue and calmed the hate by blaming her speech taking place on the opposition. The Leader of the opposition explained he wants “females to be females and males to be males. You can’t mix the female with male” Not sure he has entirely understood how males and females or even Armenians come about. He did, however, suggest a solution. “Perverts” should be expelled altogether and sent to The Netherlands instead. So far only Hakobyan, who was forced to leave the country for being attacked and having stones thrown at him, has taken the leader of the opposition up on his offer and has since sought asylum in The Netherlands. Apparently he scuffed some of the rocks in the process.

 

In response to the fiery debate, The EU exclaimed discrimination is “prohibited under the European convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms, to which Armenia is a part”. The United Nations also expressed concerns about “The recent rise in hate speech and threats of violence against human rights and LGBTI activists”. In case Armenia’s stance on the issue still wasn’t clear, their foreign office responded by saying that international partners “Should demonstrate more respect and sensitivity toward the Armenian society and refrain from undue engagement in the public debate”. Burning people alive after all is an expression of utmost respect in Armenian culture. 

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