WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.—The Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society (GALAS) has issued a statement calling on government officials in Armenia to condemn the recent violence against nine individuals in Shurnukh, Armenia. The statement reads in part, “In light of the recent violence against nine LGBTQ individuals in Armenia, we call upon the Armenian government to publicly condemn this and all hate crimes targeting people due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Marginalized groups in Armenia have continuously been deprived of full legal protection and equal rights. It is our hope that the new government of Armenia will stand firmly in defense of human rights and justice for all.”
In the early morning hours of August 3, nine people were injured in an attack by a crowd numbered to be as many as 30. Two people were hospitalized due to the injuries sustained from the attack. The motivation for the violence was stated to be the victims’ background as gay-rights activists. Reportedly, the attackers yelled homophobic slurs both prior to and during the attack.
“We expected some kind of statement or condemnation from the government but there has been nothing so far,” Mamikon Hovsepyan, the executive director of Pink Armenia, told Eurasianet. “The government is downplaying LGBT issues for the present in order to concentrate on Electoral Code reform and cracking down on corruption so they are unlikely to be particularly vocal on such issues for the time being.” Pink Armenia noted that two of its own staff and one of its board members were among those attacked.
GALAS specifically called on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Diaspora Minister Mkhitar Hayrapetyan to publicly condemn the violent attacks and that “Minister of Justice Artak Zeynalyan takes all necessary measures for legal action against the attackers in a fair and expeditious manner.”
GALAS also cited recent comments made on social media and urged consequences for those in government issuing hate speech. The statement called on both officials in Armenia and leaders in the Diaspora to ensure a safe and respectful society for all citizens.
“Our leaders, both in the homeland and in the Diaspora, have a responsibility to ensure our people are on the path toward a more just, civilized and respectful society. We all have the right to exist peacefully, without the threat of violence. Now is the time for our leaders to speak courageously and fairly regarding these matters. Remaining silent and indifferent implies these acts are permissible and warranted with no consequences. We are all the sons and daughters of the Armenian nation and demand full protection and equality.”
“We stand with our brothers and sisters in Armenia who have long been discriminated against and oppressed. The “New Armenia” must defend the universal human rights of all its citizens in order to develop into a solid democracy that embraces all segments of society.”
GALAS has created a special fund to support Armenia-based organizations currently working with the victims of this hate crime. Money being raised will help cover medical expenses, attorney fees, as well as psychological services.