No Kid Stuff: Protest in Yerevan opposes screening of film on gay rights at puppet theater
Reposted from Armenia Now: http://www.armenianow.com/society/40298/yerevan_protest_serbian_film_parada_gay_rights
Questions concerning LGBT (the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community) occasionally emerge in Armenian society as well as those related to the rights of homosexuals themselves and people who oppose them one way or another.
Children’s rights as opposed to gay rights became a hotly discussed topic in Armenia this week after a Yerevan puppet theater was chosen as a venue for showing a film about gay rights.
On Monday evening a local civic group, Hayazn Union, organized an action of protest in front of the German Embassy in Yerevan to say “No” to such a film show in the theater named after Hovannes Tumanyan (1869-1923), a revered “national poet of Armenia” who also wrote stories for children.
The matter concerns a Serbian film called “Parada” (Parade) which is planned for show at the puppet theater on October 15-16. The Serbian tragicomedy raises the problems connected with gay rights in Serbia and its show is organized by the German Embassy and the European Union as part of events to promote tolerance and non-discrimination.
Participants of the protest, including leading Armenian blogger Tigran Kocharyan (known better as Pigh, or Elephant, in the blogosphere) demanded that the German Embassy refuse to sponsor “the perversion of minors”, or in other words, cancel the show of the film at the puppet theater.
“The show of the film in a puppet theater is unacceptable. There are plenty of other venues for that, movie theaters, etc., but they chose a puppet theater. As a parent and an Armenian, I am against it. Showing this film in the puppet theatre and placing relevant posters there is like perverting children,” said the blogger, stressing that the protest was directed not against the show of the film as such, but against its show in a place supposed to be a cultural center for children. According to Kocharyan, this is not a sign of intolerance, but a matter of inadmissibility of breaking the norms of morality.
According to the protesters, the support of this film is the manifestation of a “special” policy towards Armenia. “The European Union continues to attack our country with its immoral propaganda,” said the statement by Hayazn, which raises questions about how random was the choice of a puppet theater for the demonstration of a film about homosexuals.
Artistic director of the Hovhannes Tumanyan Puppet Theater Ruben Babayan does not share the view of the protesters. He says that a puppet theater is not just for children and that shows of other films also take place there.
“This is a feature film, which has been shown at many festivals. By the same logic, I think you can ban the show of films by Sergei Parajanov [who was a ‘convicted homosexual’ in the Soviet Union]. One should take a principle as a basis and decide – either we turn this country into Iran and feel happy about that, or we just come to the realization that there are things like tolerance, a feature film and arts,” said Babayan in an interview with Tert.am.
“Parada” is a film by Serbian director Srdjan Dragojevic that was premiered at the end of last year. The key theme of the film is the second attempt to organize a pride parade in Belgrade after the failure of the first one.
On his Facebook page spokesman of the opposition Heritage party Hovsep Khurshudyan criticized the protesters, accusing them of trying to distract public attention from real problems.
“What is this row that the saviors of our nation have kicked over the movie is all about? They are all but saying that the European Union is organizing a mass rape of kids and puppets in the puppet theater. In doing so, they, in fact, managed to advertize the film so much that I watched it from beginning to end,” he wrote.
“Go and see this movie. By watching it you won’t change your sexual orientation for sure. Unless, of course, you don’t dream of that deep in your heart,” the young politician advised.
A standoff around LGTB already flared once this year after last May’s arson attack on a Yerevan nightclub known as a favorite hangout place for homosexuals in the city. The owner of the place, named Ttsomak Oganezova, herself a lesbian, heard scathing criticism and even threats (which were apparently realized in the form of the firebomb attack) shortly after a local television channel showed her interview in which she talked enthusiastically about the gay pride parade in Turkey and called Turkey a more advanced country as compared to Armenia. The woman left Armenia and settled down in Sweden soon after that.
Also in May, a Diversity Parade, which local nationalists dubbed the “gay parade”, also failed in Yerevan. A group of young people blocked the way to the parade participants, shouting: “Gays, get out of the country”, which practically broke up the procession.