Armenian Gay Bar Bombed, Officials Bail Out Attackers
A LGBT-friendly bar in downtown Yerevan, Armenia, the nation’s capital and largest city, was recently bombed two days after the country’s parliamentary elections were held. More surprisingly, two of the members of parliament allegedly bailed out the attackers, the Armenian Weekly reported.
Two Iranian-Armenian brothers attacked the DIY Rock Pub with a homemade bomb and targeted the establishment’s owner, Tsomak Oganesova, because she is a lesbian who supports her local LGBT community and has participated in Turkey’s gay pride parade.
No one was in the bar when the bomb went off, which occurred in the early morning on May 8. But the bomb did cause a significant amount of damage to DIY as its walls, furniture and liquor were destroyed from the explosion.
The bar was then attacked a second time, Armenia Now reported. On Tuesday evening, a group of unidentified people spat and threw dog feces at the pub and tore down the establishment’s posters that read "No to Fascism." The Armenian Weekly points out that the assailants also spray painted swastikas on the bar’s walls and that two of the perpetrators were reportedly arrested.
A few hours after the first incident occurred the two attackers were detained but the Armenian Weekly notes that two MP’s who are members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), an Armenian left-wing nationalist party, Artsvik Minasyan and Hrayr Karapetyan, allegedly paid about $2,500 to bail the brothers out of jail.
"I consider [Oganesova’s] types-I don’t want to sound offensive-destructive to Armenian society," Minasyan said in an interview with Panorma news agency.
He was then asked why he posted bail for the assailants.
"Why? Because knowing those youth, I consider them normal people. The investigation will reveal to what degree the violation they committed endangered public safety," he said. "In the given situation, I am convinced that those youth acted the right way, in the context of our societal and national ideals. It is a different matter if certain damage has been caused, and compensation must be paid," Minasyan added.
Oganezova said that "the arson attack on the pub had been committed by members of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation [ARF, Dashnaktsutyun]" during a press conference.
"Everything started the day when Yerkir Media TV channel [which is affiliated with the ARF] interviewed me, because I had participated in a gay parade in Turkey," she added.
Nvart Manasyan, an ARF member, says that Minasyan’s reasons for bailing out the two brothers should not be associated with the party. Many citizens are outraged and have taken to social media websites, including Facebook and Twitter, to condemn the MP’s actions.
Armenia, a conservative landlocked nation in Eurasia, does not recognize marriage equality. The country legalized homosexuality in 2003 but it is still considered a taboo among many citizens. Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt and gays and lesbians cannot openly serve in the military. Additionally, there are no anti-discrimination laws that protect LGBT individuals.
It was reported in December 2010 that HIV rates significantly increased in Armenia and LGBT activists staged a march to raise awareness on World AIDS Day. According to reports, HIV rates increased by 25 percent over the last ten years, while more than 50 other nations around the world saw HIV rates flatten or decrease.