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Chamber of Advocates Chairman Criticized for Incompetent and Homophobic Remarks

The discriminatory statements made by the Chairman of Armenia’s Chamber of Advocates Ara Zohrabyan show that he is unreliable as a lawyer and lacks professional competence, and therefore should not hold this position, Nvard Margaryan, the President of the “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” NGO (PINK Armenia) said in an interview with Epress.am.

Note, during a press conference on Tuesday, Zohrabyan spoke against the planned amendments to the Armenian Criminal Code that would criminalize discrimination on any grounds, including sexual orientation. According to the draft amendment, discrimination will be punishable by a fine, community service or imprisonment for up to 2 years. “I believe that Article 197 of the Criminal Code, which, so to speak, combats discrimination, should have the same wording as in the Constitution. The Constitution lacks the phrase ‘regardless of sexual orientation.’ After all, let’s not forget that we also have the right to a decent life; we all should live in an environment where we will feel good,” Zohrabyan had stated.

Nvard Margaryan points out that Zohrabyan, as a lawyer, should have known that the administrative, criminal, and civil codes exist for a reason, and that the Constitution is not the only legal document in Armenia. “His remarks indicate that he is not all that familiar with jurisprudence. A number of lawyers have even begun doubting his competence as a lawyer and went to court seeking the annulment of his diploma,” Margaryan noted.

During the press conference, Zohrabyan had also said that while “Armenia is tolerant of minorities,” but he personally “am against the propaganda of this way of life.” “There might be people who decide to start eating manure one day and they might want to launch movements to support this. They might, for example, want to create a Union of Manure Eaters, go out into the street, go to schools and try to campaign for manure eating.”

The President of PINK Armenia criticized Zohrabyan’s remarks as being discriminatory, saying: “A lawyer is expected to combat discrimination; meanwhile, the Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates himself demonstrates discriminatory attitudes. How can we expect him to protect people against [his own kind]?”