The ARF has been part of my bloodline. I never knew of a time when I wasn’t associated with it. During most of my life, I was involved in it. It is with great pain and distress that I learn that members of the Armenian Parliament, who are ARF members, have bailed out men who attacked a gay bar in Yerevan (or, at least, a bar that is open to the gay community).
There’s only one thing to do, only one possible ethical act that could follow this action: ARF members who are proud to be part of an organization that champions equality and justice must demand the ARF to castigate these members of the organization for the shameful way they acted. Unless that is done, the ARF is tarnished with this heinous act. One cannot in clean conscience rage for equality and social justice while promoting not only homophobia, but active violence against homosexuals.
The ARF members who bailed out these men should remember the words of the ARF anthem.
And ARF leaders should realize that this is exactly what drives young people away from the organization. And I’m talking about the hypocrisy. The rejection of gay rights being a whole different matter.
Of course, the reaction from within Armenia may be predicted—many will think of the outrage caused by this news as simply a way for the diaspora to push its policies on the homeland. But that is a vapid sentiment when the issue at hand is actually examined. This is about simple human decency and the right of people to congregate, the right of people to live and not be killed by homemade explosives. It is truly unfortunate that nationalistic groups often produce jingoistic bigots who claim that they are trying to keep the “national identity pure.”
I would challenge anyone to find a simple example in history where someone trying to keep “national identity pure” didn’t commit a terrible act.
The ARF must send a strong message. It must send the message that homosexuality is actually part of the Armenian identity, too, just like it is part of the identity of every nation, and of the species and of nature as a whole. The rejection of one tenth of the human population is the stupidest basis for a national identity that could possibly be fathomed. Unless the ARF is willing to send this message, it is tainted, and it should not complain if it is painted with a very wide brush.