Love means Love։ LGBTI Rights in Armenia

When I first decided to take up the responsibility to realize a project to support and protect LGBTI rights I also had to break the wall of prejudice, ignorance and fear in my surrounding. This is why it was quite hard to make a video about LGBTI topic. In Armenia fighting against discrimination and homophobia is an every-day struggle.

During the first step of this project I was thinking what could be the best way to show to everybody that homosexual people need to have the same rights as everyone else. That very day I was talking about this issue with an acquaintance of mine and he said: “why are you fighting for some else’s rights? It should be their job, not yours!”
In that specific moment the poem written by Pastor Martin Niemoller came to my mind:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me

So, why must we speak out for someone else’s rights? Why must we fight for someone else’s struggle? Why must we stand up for someone else’s battle?

The answer is very simple: just because we are all equal, just because we are all human beings and there should not be any discrimination. Everyone should fight for human rights.
Everything which is related to human rights concerns the whole society, and everything which is related to society concerns you too: a world without discrimination will please everyone. I don’t need to be a tree to fight against deforestation! I do not need to be black to believe that racism is one of the biggest illnesses in the society!

Starting from this logical reasoning it will be very easy to reach the second-level step: recognize that everyone deserves the same rights.

Fighting for the rights of a discriminated social group will let you know that no discrimination makes sense; you will understand that people are equally dignified and that diversity, when it harms none, must be supported and praised, and not hidden: it is a virtue, not a defect and it should not be hidden.

In Armenia the struggle of LGBTI people is quite hard: there are a lot of prejudices. Those prejudices bring fear, and fear brings violence. We must stop this vicious circle with knowledge.

Some information: in 1974 homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In the first version of 1952 homosexuality was still a psycho pathological condition among the “Personality Disorders sociopaths.”
In 1968 it was considered a sexual deviation, such as pedophilia, cataloged among the “non-psychotic mental disorders”.

Finally, in May 17 1990 the World Health Organization wiped homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, calling for the first time “a natural variant of human behavior.” Today this date is celebrated as the International Day against homophobia.
Homosexual, bisexual and transgender behaviors occur in a number of other animal species. Such behaviors include sexual activity, courtship, affection, pair bonding, and parenting, and are widespread; a 1999 review shows that homosexual behavior has been documented in about 500 species.

To be gay is not an illness. To be gay is not unnatural. To be gay is not immoral. To be gay is not abnormal.

This is how I came to the idea to make a short move about the daily life of a homosexual person. I want to show that there is no difference between “them” and “us”, because love means love!

Ester Violante,
EVS Volunteer