Discrimination against any person or group harms state and public security. Representative of ORO alliance

Nine political units, each of which has publicly presented their pre-electoral program, will participate in Parliamentary elections scheduled for April 9.  This time, LGBTnews talked with Hovsep Khurshudyan, “Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanyan” alliance representative, “Heritage” (Zharangutyun) party member and “Free Citizen” Civil Initiatives Support Center NGO head, about the rights of LGBTI people.

Mister Khurshudyan, we have studied the pre-electoral programs of political units participating in Parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2, including the program of “Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanyan” alliance, whose representative you are. In your plan, there is not only no mentioning about LGBTI people and realization of their rights, but also we haven’t found references to any ethnic minority (national, religious and other). What is the reason of such an omission in your plan?

–Thank you for the question. Our program indicates the rights of all RA citizens and in general the importance of protection of all human rights. Except from the program, I am aware that our alliance have answers to “Partnership for Open Society” initiative questionnaire, which have been discussed and approved in the alliance and could be considered as official comments to “Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanyan” alliance program. One of the questions of the questionnaire refers to LGBT people’s rights. To the question, “Whether homosexuals should have the same rights and freedoms as other citizens”, the answer was “Yes”. It would be strange to have another one.

If the state, defining the obligations of the citizens by virtue of the right given to it by people, does not discriminate against them, that is, for example taxes are collected from everyone, regardless of their affiliation to  any gender or sexual group, all are equally obliged to obey the law, then that will be unclear if the laws were not equally fixed for everyone.

– In contrast with your and other political units’ pre-electoral program, Armenian Communist Party, for example, has emphasized the issue of LGBTI people rights, but in the opposite, negative sense. According to you, why does one of the parties participating in the elections focuses on LGBTI people rights in a strongly negative way, while there is not positive indication opposing to it in the programs of other political units?

–So, as for the Communist Party, a power, which selects the flag of Soviet Empire as a background for its promotional videos, should not have the right to participate in the electoral campaign as an anti-state union. As for the rest, I think there is the problem of passivity of our civil society and especially of the  NGOs dealing with LGBT people rights. It would be better if they had worked with political parties before the election when their programs were not yet  been published. In the case of our alliance, unfortunately not in all areas the position of the alliance is presented in as detailed way as we would like to, however, even with delay, I think that our official answers to the received questions will fill that gap.

I think that violation of any person or group rights, discrimination against him\her, his\her alienation from the society harms the state and public security, often makes them vulnerable in terms of blackmail and recruitment by foreign special services, and the sooner we understand it and be able to exclude such  discriminatory attitudes in our country, the better it would be for all of us and the state.

–Does “Ohanyan-Raffi-Oskanyan” alliance support the affirmation of LGBTI people’s marriage in the legislation of RA? Will the alliance present such a bill ensuring equality for citizens in case of being elected to the National Assembly? Your pre-electoral program submits:  “We will do possible everything in order the youth study, marry and work in Armenia”. Does this directly refer to LGBTI youth?

–I cannot answer your question because the alliance has not discussed this issue. In any case, I can guess that the majority of the alliance, as well as of our society is not ready to accept the legislative affirmation of this right. This problem has not even been solved in many European countries. Anyway, if there are homosexual families and problems related to regulating those citizens’ civil relations, then, first it should be discussed within the civil society with the involvement of professionals.

According to the academic literature data, LGBTI persons make up about 5 percent of the societies. Adapting that number to the official voters number in Armenia, we can assume that we are talking about approximately 120 thousand Armenian citizens, who are exposed to discrimination because of legislative gaps and homophobia in all the layers of society, including the political field. What will the “Oskanian-Raffi-Ohanyan” alliance do in the National Assembly to eliminate the legislative gaps leading to discrimination? It is not just about homosexual marriages, but also about the right to adopt a child, blood donation, sex reassignment surgery and documentation issues.

– I think, I’ve already answered this question in the sense that such issues have not yet been discussed in the alliance. At the moment, I can express my personal opinion on sex reassignment surgery: I do not see any particular problem in fixing such a right. Human soul is a priority, however, the body is not only secondary but also subordinate to the soul, consciousness, and if a woman feels or thinks of her as a man or vice versa, it would be better both for himself/herself and the society to conform his/her physiological sex to his psychological, social sex. The bill is currently under development in the Government, the content is unknown.

–Armenia has undertaken a commitment to the European Union to adopt an anti-discriminatory bill. If your alliance does not form a majority in the National Assembly, will it require that the bill include anti-discrimination provision, or, in the case of forming government, will it include that provision in the bill?

–Well, if the Alliance officially admits that homosexuals have the same rights and freedoms as other citizens, it is logical that it will also be for the indication of anti-descrimination provision in the law. Moreover, it’s not important here, there are 120,000 such citizens or just one. Any citizen of the Republic of Armenia, any person living in the Republic of Armenia has equal rights with others and, if they are violated, their protection should be enshrined in the law.

–In your plan, you’ve noted that you are considering the “rooting of contemporary political culture with European criteria” as a problem. If we look at the political culture widely, can we say that your alliance is ready to adopt such a state policy on the recognition and enforcement of LGBTI persons’ rights, as the governments of Sweden, the Netherlands and other advanced states?

-In order to have a policy like that of the government of  Sweden or the Netherlands, first, the Armenian society should be educated, the problems existing in society should be freely discussed, analyzed, people should be freed from the fears of the phenomena that are unknown to them in most cases, of the persons different from them. We, together with our homosexual, transgender compatriots, should also decide how to solve their problems in the most optimistic way, to protect their, as well as any other minority’s and generally every individual’s rights, so that any person could be integrated into society and not feel alienated, feel the protection of the state in his/her unique path to happiness, so that he/she will be ready to protect that state with self-sacrifice.

Generally, the higher the level of social dialogue within society is, the lower are the risks of social disharmony, antithesis, and antisocial behavior. Unfortunately, today the basic rights of absolute majority of citizens are violated in Armenia, and as long as there are no genuinely democratic elections, legitimate authorities and the rule of law, democratic political forces and civil society should continue fighting for the protection of the rights of every citizen.