A Yerevan court has today ruled not to charge the editors of Iravunk newspaper for the publication of a ‘blacklist’ which gave the names and personal details of 60 individuals thought to be connected to the Armenian LGBT community.
The case in question was brought forward by 16 individuals who were part of the group attacked by Iravunk for their apparent involvement in the Armenian LGBT community. In response to the ‘blacklist’ published earlier this year LGBT charity Pink Armenia supported 16 of the 60 to raise a case against Iravunk and their Editor-in-chief, Hovhannes Galajyan.
The decision caused huge upset in the Armenian LGBT community, who see the court’s actions as legitimising the behaviour of Iravunk as well as a huge step back for acceptance within Armenia.
Armenia currently has no law defining homophobic speech as a hate crime and so the individuals in question sued the newspaper on grounds of personal defamation, claiming that their lives had been poorly impacted by the actions of the newspaper.
The court, however, ruled that the actions of Iravunk had been within legal limits and that the lives of the individuals had not been significantly impacted enough to warrant any charges. This decision was in spite of numerous reports of harassment and threats as well as one member of this list fearing to return to their native Iran after being outed by the newspaper.
News of the court ruling comes just days after the Armenian government decorated editors of the newspaper with an award commemorating their 25th anniversary, despite accusations of bigotry and the ongoing court case.
In response to the news Pink Armenia released a public statement condemning the court ruling, claiming that it reflected high-level official support of homophobia and hate speech within Armenia. It is understood that Pink Armenia will continue to support the individuals attacked by Iravunk and intend to bring the case to an appeal court in November.