American Armenian Kyle Khandikian was kicked out of a folk dance group last year for being gay. He responds to an interview given by Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan to Aravot.am, where she says, that no one’s rights should be violated in Armenia.
“I am very happy that Ms. Hakobyan and I share the values of equality and human rights protection.
Armenians, like all people, are diverse. In our case, with our large and widespread diaspora, our diversity is unique, and it is from our diversity that we draw our beauty and strength today. Armenia must be a place where all Armenians can visit and if they chose, live, freely and with equal dignity and protection under the law according to Armenia’s Constitution, domestic legislation, and international commitments.
Unfortunately, the rights of LGBT citizens are not weighed equally in Armenia, like in many other places. This is a fact, and any organization in Armenia working with LGBT people will tell you this. LGBT people themselves will tell you this. It is the government’s responsibility to secure the rights of all its citizens, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The government of Armenia today fails to do so.
I continue to live and work in Armenia, which, with every passing day, feels more like home, despite the challenges put before LGBT people here. I look forward to sharing the future with this beautiful country, which is my homeland. I also continue to learn Armenian folk dance, thanks to the kindness of a new teacher, to whom I am very grateful.
I hope that the Ministry of Diaspora takes the necessary steps and works with all relevant government bodies to ensure that the rights of all Armenia’s visitors and repatriates are protected.”