Armenia: Civil society activists join to condemn Iravunk court ruling

A number of Armenian groups promoting civil society have today released a joint letter condemning the recent decision not to punish editors of homophobic newspaper Iravunk for the publication of an anti-gay ‘blacklist’.

The decision, made in October, saw editor Hovhannes Galajyan go without punishment after a group of individuals supported by LGBT charity Pink Armenia brought a court case against him and his newspaper for the article, in which readers were encouraged to boycott and discriminate members and supporters of the LGBT community. The decision was seen as a blow to Armenia’s LGBT community, as well as the country’s progress in civil society, and was labelled as further authority endorsement of the newspaper’s bigotry by several groups.

The open letter, released today, saw 29 NGOs and public organizations join Pink Armenia in condemning the court’s decision not to prosecute.

Among the groups listed were the Society Without Violence, the Women’s Resource Center and the Helsinki Foundation for human rights.

The public statement expressed concern over the recent ruling, which the groups involved agree is an indication of high-level support of homophobic hate-speech and discrimination within Armenia. As well as a lack of political will by authorities to punish hate-speech in Armenia concerns have been raised over the support that Iravunk gained from Armenian officials.

Member of the ruling party Hayk Boris Babukhanyan, who was honored with a special medal of service last month, was a founding member of the newspaper and was present at the court’s recent hearing. It is also believed that several members of parliament and high-ranking officials helped to support the newspaper’s actions through various means.

The groups involved in the statement also called upon the Armenian government to condemn hate-speech and discrimination seen among high ranking officials and to ensure that future incidents of hate-crime are investigated and dealt with in an appropriate manner.

For more information and to read the full statement visit Pink Armenia’s website.

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