I do not think the issue is currently on the agenda: Mane Tandilyan on homosexual marriages

LGBTnews continues the series of interviews with MPs of the National Assembly, and this time our interlocutor is MP Mane Tandilyan from the “Way out” faction.

Mrs Tandilyan, is there a need in Armenia to set up certain mechanisms for the fight against discrimination?

In fact, within documents, we exclude discrimination in different formats: the equality of persons in our country is fixed in the Constitution, but real life cannot be separated from the documents in the sense that reality is different in our country. Therefore, I think that we need to introduce operating mechanisms.

– One of those operating mechanisms can be the adoption of the law on equality. Such a bill is currently being elaborated. Considering the fact that LGBT persons are subjected to discrimination more often in Armenia, in your opinion, should the prohibition of discrimination based on gender orientation and gender identity be highlighted in the bill?

-I think the Constitution has answered to that question, which states that all people have equal rights, all the ones literally. In other words, discrimination against a person depending on any criteria is unacceptable: our Constitution says so, and in that sense, I think, our society and state should be ready to defend fundamental human rights. Nevertheless, I think that serious works should be done with the society and public perceptions. I am against the introduction of any artificial law and mechanism; I think, the society should be ready that we can  conduct healthy discussions and see where we are radical, from which part of the society comes this or that requirement, because very often we see that many issues in western countries have already been made extreme and affect the interests of other groups. In this regard, I think we should held serious discussions and be based on our society’s demand.

-LGBTnews helds interviews with MPs of the National Assembly, and among them there are people, who say, for example, that “spreading of the metastases of LGBT persons should not be allowed”, that “LGBT rights are not human rights” or that “they have not come to the National Assembly to protect the rights of LGBT people”. These statements are made by the people who should act as examples for the society. If such statements are made by the representatives of the political elite, then who will work with the society to change people’s perceptions and create an atmosphere of tolerance. In other words, who should lead social changes?

-I think that MPs are also representatives of the society, and when I say that works should be done with the society, I mean MPs as well. Yes, a part of that society is represented in the National Assembly. I consider that there is some educational gap. There are many questions and queries about this topic, which are very relevant, but there are also ideas that are the result of certain information and education lack. Sometimes people make statements without getting deeper into the question, and I have a great desire that a person speaking on this topic at least obtain the minimum knowledge about it.

-Who and how should give this knowledge to the public?

– There are various non-governmental organizations, civil society representatives and people in general who have knowledge of all this. I think we have no shortage of public organizations that can provide elementary knowledge to the public through various conferences, seminars, meetings. Perhaps, when exhaustive answers are given on certain issues, people will change their attitudes towards the issues of LGBT people’s rights.

– In fact, we should put our hope in the civil society for this issue as well… You have rightly mentioned that all people are equal by the Constitution of Armenia; therefore, like all other citizens of the Republic of Armenia, LGBTI persons should have the opportunity to exercise their right to marry.

-Currently, our low regulates the scope of the people who have the right to marry. If we need to have another Constitution to regulate this, we have to conduct extensive discussions about it. I think it is not perceptible for our society right now, moreover, I do not associate the fact of being imperceptible with being informed or not informed, I take into account the very phenomenon. If we have to artificially bring and introduce that norm, then those people will not be happy in our society. Why are we taking steps? – In order to make people happy. All people have the right to be happy, and I do not think that today’s society will perceive it if such a decision is made: the society should be ready; definitely, the society should give a signal.

-There is no need for a new Constitution; the current Constitution does not prohibit homosexual marriages as well. However, as far as I understood, you think it is too early to speak about LGBTI persons’ marriage, don’t you?

– It’s never too early to speak about any phenomenon, but as regards to giving it a legislative form – yes.

֊ -And, nevertheless, if there is a draft law regulating the marriage of LGBTI persons in the National Assembly, how will you vote?

-I will think about it when it is on the agenda. I do not think the issue is currently on the agenda for our society.