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Journalist Continued to Offend Armenian LGBT Rights Activists in Court

Today, at the Kentron and Nork-Marash Administrative Districts’ Court of General Jurisdiction a court session took place in the case of 16 citizens against the Iravunk (Right) newspaper. The lawsuit’s subject is the editor of Iravunk, Hovhannes Galajyan’s (pictured), article titled “Those Serving the International Homosexual Lobby Interests; the Nation and State’s Enemy Blacklist” (the Armenian word used for homosexual in the article is a pejorative word translated to "homosexual fanatic" and was used officially during the USSR). In that article, the author listed 60 individuals in a “blacklist” and their personal Facebook page’s hyperlinks. He posted those people’s links who had commented against the singers Inga and Anush Arshakyanss homophobic statements on a Facebook Press Conference by Azatutyan (Liberty) Radio. Some of the 60 citizens work for NGOs which work to defend homosexual rights.

The citizens are demanding that the newspaper publish a piece retracting from the author’s thoughts and 5 million AMD ($12,200) compensation. The citizens' lawyer, Nvard Piliposyan, presented the lawsuit saying that the article sullied their honor and dignity and had the intention to offend and was made public.

“The fact that the article reached an audience of at least 3,500 and more proves that it was a public piece. That sullies honor because it accuses the citizens as traitors to the state, which is considered a criminal case. And it has the intention to offend because it asks state bodies to fire those people, demands journalists to be free from their “lobbying,” basically pushing for aggressive actions,” said the lawyer presenting the lawsuit.

The side not only considers the qualification of being “national and state traitors” as hurtful but also the word “zombie”, which according to the State Language Inspectorate is defined as unknowingly implementing the will of an evil force.

During the entire court session, the defendant Hovhannes Galajyan attempted to stray from the main issue of the lawsuit’s investigation and continued to offend the plaintiffs.

“You consider the word lobbying as offensive, is the word “homosexual lobbying” also offensive?” said Galajyan.

Piliposyan answered saying that the issue is not related to the case, however, she added that the term “homosexual” is more suitable.

The defendant’s lawyer, Levon Baghdasaryan, responded using the term “Galuboy-ism” (Russian for 'faggot'). He said that, in accordance to the Armenian Constitution, everyone has the right to express their opinions; Hovhannes Galajyan expressed his opinion that “Galuboyism” is a threat to national security.

“I also share his opinion,” said Baghdasaryan.

Galajyan also repeatedly stated that the Armenian Constitution does not define the crime of “hate propaganda,” which the plaintiff’s are accusing him with. He also denied that he personally offended them, although the article named all 60 persons’ full names.

Galajyan’s lawyer motioned the court to deny the complaint and demanded 35,000 AMD ($85) from all 16 citizens to compensate Galajyan with his attorney costs.

The court’s verdict will be announced on October 30th.