“It’s not normal for Armenia to violate the right to hold meetings,” said the Chairman of Peace Dialogue NGO Edgar Khachatryan in an interview with LGBTnews referring to the statement of the Police Chief Valeri Osipyan on the LGBT Christians’ Forum and the Forum’s cancellation.
“The issue is not just the statement of the Chief of Police. I do not know whether he decided to do so by his own or not. In any case, he has violated the constitutional right of citizens. I do not know whether he was ordered to do so or not, but we see that at the state level those citizens were not given the opportunity to hold their forum. As to the argument that they say the right to assemble is not an absolute right, and in some cases it can be hindered, let me mention, that in this case, the state should substantiate that the conduct of such a gathering may jeopardize the security of the country or that hindrance will contribute to the development of democracy in the country: if there is no such a justification, no prohibition can be imposed, this is very important to mention,” said Edgar Khachatryan.
In response to the question what steps he has taken in recent months regarding the drastic increase in public manifestations of homophobia and hate speech, the human rights activist replied, ” I must say frankly, our hands just did not reach there, we deal with other issues, but this is just a shameful situation, the state should take steps to prevent such things. Any, even if there is an internet attack, a social attack, all these cases … Spreading hate speech should be punished. Unfortunately, we have not done anything in that direction yet. We can prepare announcements, but about specific cases … I don’t know, the citizens did not applied to us that we could provide legal assistance or deal with those cases, in our turn we unfortunately, have not done anything yet by our own initiative.”
Let us remind that “New Generation” NGO has cancelled the Forum of LGBTI Christians’ in Armenia after the Police Chief Valeri Osipyan had stated in his talk with journalists in the National Assembly that the event will not be held in Armenia as he thinks it is not expedient.
“No, it will not be held, because I think it’s not expedient at this time, I do not think it should be held also taking into account the risks and safety. We have also carried out explanatory works in order it won’t happen within the territories of Armenia,” said Osipyan.
After the Police Chief’s statement, “New Generation” NGO informed the public that “taking into account the threats constantly posed on the internet, organized persecutions and possible risks of attack on the forum participants, as well as the lack of full willingness of the RA Police to protect, “New Generation” Humanitarian NGO, negotiating with the organizational team of the Forum of Eastern European and Central Asian LGBT Christians, announces that a decision has been made to cancel the meeting to be held in Armenia on November 15-18, 2018.”