Tag: LGBT

When contextualizing its report on transphobic death threats received by an Armenian activist, The Guardian somehow forgets to mention religion

Lilit Martirosyan’s speech in the Armenian parliament has gone viral.

Addressing a panel on human rights, Martirosyan described the plight of the trans community in Armenia. She explained how her own experience of threats and violence reflect the challenges that she and other trans people face in the country:

I encompass in myself — tortured, raped, kidnapped, subjected to physical violence, burned, immolated, knifed, subjected to murder attempt, killed, emigrated, robbed, subjected to stigma and discrimination in social, medical, legal, economic areas and in every aspect of a dignified life, unemployed, poor, and morally abandoned — the Armenian Transgender’s image.

While Armenia has passed legislation to decriminalize homosexuality, there are no laws to prohibit discrimination against LGBT persons. The government disqualifies LGBT people from joining the military. Same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, or to adopt.

ILGA, a globally renowned NGO, ranks Armenia 48th out of 49 European countries for LGBT rights. In the ‘Hate Crime & Hate Speech’ category, Armenia finishes (joint) bottom of the pile, with a score of zero percent. The past year has seen a surge in violent anti-LGBT attacks in the country.

Therefore, perhaps it was no surprise when Martirosyan’s truly historic and brave speech sparked an immediate backlash from Armenian conservatives. It started even before she left the podium. Panel chair, Naira Zohrabyan, decried Martirosyan’s speech for having (allegedly) deviated from the official debate schedule and ordered her to leave the chamber, shouting “You have violated the agenda!” at her as she walked away. Some of the MPs applauded this verdict, shouting “Bravo, Ms Zohrabyan!

Pic: YouTube

The Guardian reported on the death threats today:

The speech, two weeks ago, has since sparked a backlash in Armenia, where homosexuality has been decriminalised but discrimination against LGBTI people is rife. There have been anti-LGBTI protests in front of the national assembly and verbal attacks made by some parliamentarians have included calls for her to be burned alive…

Martirosyan said the home addresses of several people who work for Right Side, the transgender rights organisation she created in 2016, have been leaked and that her own home address has been spread across the internet by extremist groups who have threatened to “kill them if we find them”. Nationalists, she said, have gathered outside her house, raising Armenian flags…

And so on, and so on.

Pic: Aysor.am

Strangely, across its 760-word report, The Guardian entirely avoids pointing out why these Armenian protesters want LGBT persons to be “burned alive” so much that there are pickets outside parliament and — more disturbingly — attempted lynchings in rural Armenian villages.

They fail to even refer to the fact that the protests are spearheaded by Armenian church figures and clerics, and that much of the inflammatory language used in the protests is infused with religious diatribes.

The leader of the Prosperous Armenia party, Gagik Tsarukyan, invoked “Armenian traditions and faith” to declare Martirosyan’s address a “vice,” adding that “we must hide the vice as it was before.”

Protesters were led to parliament by religious groups and individual clerics, who called for a “ban on sexual minorities” at the legislative level. The clerics included Ghazar Petrosyan, a priest who once berated the Armenian president for being a “friend” of Elton John, on the basis that “nothing can alleviate the sin of being gay.

One of their schticks was to declare that Martirosyan’s speech had “desecrated” the parliamentary podium, and that the chamber needed now to be cleansed. They brought incense, which they said was needed in order to “sanctify” the podium at which Martirosyan had stood. The protesters were told that this would set off the fire alarm in parliament, so they offered to bless the podium with holy water instead. Some of the religious groups even brought a new podium to replace the one that Martirosyan had tainted.

In Armenia, religious attacks on the LGBT community go right to the top. Last year, the supreme leader of the Armenian Church decried “the phenomenon of homosexuality” as “unacceptable to the way of human nature” and, literally, “a threat to our nation’s survival.”

The fact that The Guardian can report on these protests without even mentioning their religious underpinnings — in a country such as Armenia, where church-led conservatism has long been a source of concern — is, frankly, nothing less than bizarre.

The obvious question to raise is: would The Guardian have mentioned religion had these protests taken place in a Muslim country?

Well, when The Guardian reports on transphobia and homophobia in places like Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Iran, for example, it seems to me that they are quite quick to refer to sharia law, clerics, and other religious frames of reference by way of context. The fact they avoid doing so when describing Christian protests in Armenia certainly stands out.

I note that the Guardian’s Armenia report is “supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.”

I wonder does this mean that certain terms and conditions apply?

Maybe not, but it’s worth remembering all the same that, even in The Guardian, paid-for content is exactly what it says it is.

Paid for.

If this is what the collapse of centrism looks like, then PLEASE give me more centrism

All the “worst people in Ireland” are running for election at the same time. We’re talking your racists, we’re talking your sexists, we’re talking your anti-vaxxers, your anti-fluoriders, your anti-Semites. The anti-5G brigade are in there. The anti-feminists too. And the anti-LGBT folks.

Not all of them are so negative. Some of them are actually pro stuff. For example, we have pro-lifers. We have pro-gun people. We even have pro-Illuminati Conspiracy theorists.

Pro or anti, there is something for everybody.

Conall McCallig has made a list (check out his original blog post for hyperlinks):

[Edit: The list has since been updated to include Allan Brennan (Independent) – Anti-5G, Anti-Vaxxer, Diarmaid Mulcahy (Independent) – Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Fluoride, and James Miller (Independent) – Anti-5G, Anti-Vaxxer, Anti-Semitic, Anti-Muslim]

Is it just me, or are there rather a lot of names on that list?

In Ireland, 59 candidates are running in this year’s European Parliament elections. The above list accounts for a quarter of the field. But as Conall himself points out, there were other candidates about which he could source no information. These off-grid people could be even more fringe than the horribles he did manage to track down. In other words, we could be talking about close to a third of the slate holding extremist, esoteric, or, shall we say, eccentric views on social issues.

In the Irish part of the Euro elections, thirteen seats are up for grabs (two of which may be re-allocated back to Britain if the UK eventually decides not to leave the European Union). In other words, there are more kooky candidates than there are seats to be filled.

It seems to me that some of these folks are more sinister than others. If anything, the anti-Illuminati, anti-5G, or anti-GMO candidates are very much the lesser of evils. In fact their worst influence might not be to actually get elected. Rather, their damage would be to facilitate the seriously shady ones — the real bigots — to hide behind the crazy bush.

In other words, there’s a danger that the wackos who think that 5G internet is a deep-state conspiracy to line the pockets of Big Telecom while causing cellphone brain cancer in the masses will make the de facto racists come across as serious politicians.

But they’re not. The racists are…well…they are racists. And there are several of them. And this is precisely their opportunity to capitalize on a global trend of chaos to push xenophobic agendas through to the middle-class mainstreams of the Western world, including in our own little backwater here in grand old Ireland.

I mean, they are already setting fire to asylum centres.

This is far from a comedy election.

Pence photographed with gay man before taking him to private room for secret rendezvous

It’s (groan) nearly St Patrick’s Day, and so the Irish prime minister is doing the usual in the US of A. But this time, there are some new elements. Specifically, the prime minister (the official title of his office is Taoiseach) is newly elected and performing these duties for the first time.

He’s already had the wonderful pleasure of meeting Trump. Now, protocol calls for a meeting with Vice-President Pence.

But this year, oddly, Pence has insisted on some new measures for the traditional meeting:

The much-anticipated meeting between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and US vice president Mike Pence will be held behind closed doors.

Traditionally the St Patrick’s Day breakfast meeting between the Taoiseach and the Vice President is open to the media and their comments can be reported to the public.

However, on Friday morning the media will be prohibited from reporting the remarks of both leaders.

…It is understood the decision to bar the media was taken by the vice president’s Office.

Hmmm. Last year’s meeting between Pence and the previous Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, was — as always — open to the media. There were witnesses to what went on. Even photographs.

So do we really need to put on our thinking caps to figure out what is happening here?

Mr Varadkar is one of few openly gay world leaders…

Uh-huh.

…and Mr Pence has been criticised for his views on LGBT rights.

That’s putting it mildly.

Here’s an overview from the New York Times:

Gay and transgender leaders said they were especially alarmed when Mr. Trump chose Mike Pence, who has a long record of opposition to gay rights, as his running mate.

“What we know about Mike Pence is that he led a direct, massive and concerted effort in the state of Indiana to deny equality to L.G.B.T. people,” Ms. Carey [Rea Carey, the executive director of the National L.G.B.T.Q. Task Force] said. “It’s not like Trump didn’t know who he was.”

As governor of Indiana, Mr. Pence opposed gay marriage and signed into law a bill that made it legal for businesses to cite religious freedom when refusing service to gay and transgender people, for example a bakery that refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

As a member of Congress, Mr. Pence voted against employment nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people and also voted against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

His opposition to gay rights goes back at least to his first congressional campaign, in 2000, when he opposed same-sex marriage and the nondiscrimination laws that protected L.G.B.T. people.

He also argued for public funding of conversion therapy and said federal funding for H.I.V./AIDS treatment should be renewed only if the government could certify that no money went to “organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the H.I.V. virus,” according to an archived version of his campaign website.

Mr. Brown [Jay Brown, of gay rights organization, Human Rights Campaign] called Mr. Pence “one of the most anti-L.G.B.T. politicians out there.”

And let’s not forget what his best buddy Donald had to say about him:

During a meeting with a legal scholar…When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

Yeah. Hang them.

I guess you need to be pretty out there for even Trump to recognize that your homophobia is laughably off the scale.

The meeting is taking place as I write. Who knows what is going on in there…

But at least the tabloid paps snapped them before they went inside:

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Pic: The Irish Sun

I’m sure both will treasure these few images of this momentous day.

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