Home / LGBT+ / LGBT Activist Speaks Out on Homophobia in Armenia, Says Country Needs Anti-Discrimination Law (Video)

LGBT Activist Speaks Out on Homophobia in Armenia, Says Country Needs Anti-Discrimination Law (Video)

There are LGBT individuals in Armenia, with their rights and issues, but their voices remain largely unheard, Kyle Khandikyan who came to Armenia in 2015 as a volunteer with Birthright Armenia told Epress.am, speaking about public attitudes towards LGBT+ people in the country and the discrimination he recently faced for being gay.

“I am Armenian, but because of my homosexuality, I’m not accepted by my community. Your compatriots tell you that ‘people like you should be burnt or murdered,’ which, to me, is horrible and unacceptable. We are a nation that is well aware of what hatred can lead to, so these calls to violence are unacceptable to me. We survived genocide, which should have at least taught us something; but we’ve still got a lot to learn,” Khandikyan said.

The 23-year-old U.S.-born Armenian expounded his views on the subject in an article entitled “Explain to Me Why and How I Should Be Proud to Be Armenian,” after the publication of which he was kicked out of “Bekor” amateur folk dance group and told by its artistic director Harut Baghdasaryan that he had “no right” to dance Armenian dances because he was gay. Additionally, the instructor told Khandikyan that “such people” should be stoned.

According to Khandikyan, he had written his article on homophobia and transphobia with the intention of “giving people a little shake;” to “make them a little mad so that they understand my anger.” Initially, Khandikyan added, he had had no particular desire to speak out about his homosexuality, but the discrimination he faced at Baghdasaryan’s hands made him change his mind since he believes that he is “not the only one” affected by the issue.

“We are all obliged to speak up about injustice, and although it’s extremely hard to be a part of this nation as a homosexual, I still love these people. I love even those who hate me,” Khandikyan said.

Speaking about the differences between societal attitudes towards LGBT people in Diaspora and Armenia, he stressed that young diasporic Armenians were more tolerant, while older people, including those who’ve arrived in the USA from Armenia and the Middle East, tend to display discriminatory attitudes.

The lack of an Armenian law protecting members of the LGBT+ community and other minorities, Khandikyan added, also contributes to the problem; “Everybody’s human rights, independent of their nationality, should be protected in Armenia.”

Shahane Khachatryan