Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gay Rights

Gay, straight, bisexual: how much does sexual orientation matter to a sense of identity and a role in a society? Everybody in this society has a sexual orientation, but shall this difference make any sense in a social life and civil rights? Depending on our sexuality we all have different desires and attractions , but when the problem is about the rights and role in the society, there is one thing that should make everybody equal: the concept of human being. Each of us has his/her personal perceptions (values, beliefs and cognitions). And according to the Bill of Rights and Civil Liberties everybody should be equal no matter of race, color, sexual orientation, religion and etc….
Every human being has a free will and a freedom of choice. Sometimes this moral code is infringed based on many reasons, one of which is the sexual orientation. First of all, let me briefly explain what sexual; orientation is: “Sexual orientation refers to the sex, sexes, gender or genders, to which a person is attracted and which form the focus of a person's amorous or erotic desires, fantasies, and spontaneous feelings.” (en.wikipedia.org). It’s the whole expression of our feelings, desires and emotions towards the people that we are attracted with. It contains the understanding of such feelings such as Love, Attraction, Desire and Satisfaction.
Is it really a big issue that a man can be attracted to a man and fall in love with him? Or should one’s sexual orientation change his/her role in the society where he/she acts? To these questions I don’t even hesitate to answer “NO”. One’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with his/her importance in the society. What is all this discrimination about? Lesbians and gay men are discriminated against at many levels at this society. They may face the toughest battle for equality. However, Democratic Socialists believe that the sexual preference should be recognized as a matter of individual choice, a basic democratic right. This is a free democratic society with political and economic equalities, which means equality in employment, housing, education, health care, taking part in political and social life. Seems there should not be any problems.
If you ask anyone, they will tell you they are in favor of equal rights for homosexuals. They will say gays should have the same rights in housing, jobs, public accommodations, and should have equal access to government benefits and equal protection by the law. But if you specify your question and ask about the gay marriage, all this talk of equality stops dead cold.
More than half of all people in the United States oppose gay marriage, even though three fourths are otherwise supportive of gay rights. This means that many of the same people who are even passionately in favor of gay rights oppose gays on this one issue.
Why is there such controversy?
It’s because there is a lot of misunderstanding what homosexuality really is, as well as the erroneous assumption that gay people enjoy the same civil rights, protections as everyone else. The opponents of the gay marriage bring a lot of arguments these days, and they are usually variations of a few well-established themes.
A marriage is an institution between one man and one woman: that’s the most frequently heard argument, one even codified in a recently passed U.S. federal law. You can’t deny people, their rights, unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them in the very basis of American ideal of human rights. As the civil right laws in this country state that everyone is equal, gay people should be granted rights, especially regarding marriage and all the legal protections that go along with it.
Granting gays the right to marry is a special right. The opposition to gay marriage stems ultimately from a deep-seated homophobia in this culture; while many people don’t realize that homophobia exists to the extent that whatever it does is a very real part of every gay person’s life. It is there, and it has far more serious consequences for American society than most Americans realize, not just for gay people, but for the society in general.
When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters to civil justice, which often can be quite serious, and can have life-damaging, even life- threatening consequences. Sexual orientation is a private matter and the government doesn’t belong in individuals’ bedrooms.
Anyway, now some states have the legal civil unions for gay people, so homosexuals can get married as heterosexuals under the same laws and rights.
In Dec 1999, The Hawaii Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, in April 2000, the Vermont House of Representatives gave a final approval to same-sex marriages, in June 2000, the Supreme Court of New Jersey accepted it too, in 2004 Massachusetts legalized the gay marriage (http://speakout.com/activism/gayrights/).
Another aspect of this is the adoption. 19 states allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in a complex and expensive two-step process, in which one parent first adopts and then the second can petition for joint rights.( Sean Cahill,” Same –sex Marriage in the United States”).
Legalizing the gay marriage step by step is the biggest right for gay people, as they can make unions and enjoy their entire life together. But this doesn’t solve the problem of discrimination. California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Islands, Vermont, Wisconsin and Nevada prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Colorado, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Washington ban discrimination in public employment based on sexual orientation.
Why is it still so? Gay relationships are immoral? Who says? The Bible? I always thought that religion implied the right of freedom from religion as well. At this point, not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism celebrate gay relationships freely. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law. So if one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is unreasonable enough to discount this argument. People with profound and deep religious beliefs that don’t accept the conception of homosexuality and try to evict the homosexual individuals from the society always make me wonder: are they actually religious? Do they realize such religious concepts as love, care, humanity, open-mindedness, generosity?
People should understand that being a gay it’s not their choice. Scientists so far divided homosexuality into two parts: natural and nurtured. The basis behind the natural theory for homosexuality is that individuals are born with certain genetic makeup, which predetermines their homosexual orientation. On the other hand, the nurtured theory believes that one’s environment and experiences can predetermine one’s sexual orientation.
I know that heterosexuals consider gay relationships to be merely a sexual perversion. But the homosexuality is multidimensional and is much more about love and affection. That’s what gay relationships are based on- mutual attraction, love and affection. As I’ve already mentioned above, being a gay is part of that person’s core identity, and goes right the very center of his being. It’s like being black in a society of whites. Yes, being gay is just that profound to the person. This is something that few heterosexuals can understand unless they are the part of minority themselves. And let’s remember the Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson says:”All human beings are created equally”. Yes and this is absolutely true, they are created equally and should be treated equally, have equal rights and their own role in this society.
But will the discrimination towards the sexual orientation be illuminated from the world one day? I wish I could answer to this question….

Thursday, October 26, 2006

the Armenian-Jewish connection

Upon receiving an email from Talene, one of the administrators of the blog, Կենաց-לחיים or "Genats-Lehayim", I was not very quick to respond and check out their website. I have now begun to catch up with everything and I apologize for not doing this earlier. Things have been crazy and hectic with work and there's too many excuses and will not go there...

So I have checked out Genats-Lehayim blog and really it is interesting. I recommend you check it out as well.

As they say in their mission statement:
The symbolic birthday of this blog is April 24, 2006. Since 1965, people around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide on that day. In 2006, Yom ha-Shoah, the remembrance day for the Holocaust, which is observed on the Hebrew calendar date of Nisan 27, fell on April 25. It seemed like a perfect opportunity for Armenians and Jews in the diaspora to cooperate in ceremonies to mourn the victims of the past and to stand united against genocide today. Not much of the sort occurred; rather, we were struck by the lack of mutual acknowledgement...

There is another front on which one would expect Armenians and Jews to be natural allies: the struggle against the ongoing denial of genocide. Unfortunately, here, too, we have let ourselves become divided. This forum is an effort to rectify the present set of circumstances by bringing together news and analysis, individuals and organizations from the diasporas, Armenia, and Israel to work on our common concerns.


Interestingly, it's not just the struggle of denial against genocide that unites the Armenian and Jewish people. Not only do Talene and Amos discuss this issue, but they also have various interesting posts regarding this connection between the ancient civilizations. Amos' most recent post is about this latest issue regarding genocide denial and the French legislation and how the New York Times is in "genocide denial". Check it out here


This blog is a unique collaborative effort- keep up the good work and I look forward to reading your posts!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Traffic in Yerevan , Armenia

Well.Im doing blogging again , and this time the plot is a very interesting one. I would like to talk about the traffic in Yerevan , Armenia.I always knew how bad it was , abut now coming from the United States I realized how much it sucks.
So as we know in every civilized society there are traffic regulations, and obviously we have those regulations too. Lets say what is bothering me.
Lets start from the cars, you can see all kinds of cars , and contrast is just killing , very expensive ones and veeeeeery old soviet cars and trucks, that should have been out a long time ago. But still this is not a real problem we should admit it , first when you get one road to drive there are no lanes to follow your way, if the street is supposed to take 3 lanes in each direction , now its a bizzare situation, its just like a crowd, cars are going in a messy way even crossing the massive lines of the roads, who cares????
And plus to this there is no speed limit, so can you picture that road?? No lanes , no speed limits, no rules, so driving here just makes you sick , and if the pedestrian wants to cross the street in a appropriate place there can be a car right in that place , he is waiting for the red light to go, WHAT THE FUCK , he is not supposed to be there so the cars are going , people cross the street wherever they want, and its getting a one huge massive mass. Oh yeah, even in one way street you have no guarantee that you wont be hurt from the other side, so youd better be secure and careful.
As we all know there are special parking spots at the streets , but in Armenia it is parking spot everywhere, you can park your car wherever you want, NO FINE TICKETIf you want you can park even on a sidewalk, we should admit this one is just over control.
And in this whole fucked up situation , obviously there are some policemen at the streets, they are there for hunting, but now following the rules. If accidentally you are not lucky that day and your car is getting towed, you just give 1 or 2 $ to him , and you are all set, so as you see the corruption works really good over here. MONEY DOES EVERYTHING HERE, YOU HAVE IT , YOU GOT IT.
No seatbelts are required in Yerevan , there are no laws against it. You should be 16(how I know) to get a license, but you can drive underage too if you have money.
Oh and lets talk about the amazing public transportation in Yerevan , its just unique , no other country has such attraction, thats just killing me. We have all kinds of transportations, buses, micro buses(marshutka), trolley buses, subway and the rails of trains , but the trains dont exist just the rails, so ridiculous . You can get everywhere in a city with public transportation , and it costs 25 cents, what about the buses they are not that bad, I mean they are old , but anyways, but when the case is coming to the micro buses , I need to take a breathe right here. Ok so let me go on telling the details, those are small buses , which are the most popular in the country. So technically there are like 15 seats in the damn bus, but it cares 35 people at the same time ,so if you are smart enough go figure. It is so self humiliating to ride those buses , because you cant feel the parts of your own body, and somebody else can be on you literally you can feel their bodies . Where is the personal space , is so humiliating. There are no specific stops for those buses people can stop them whenever and wherever they want, like in every corner, even in the middle of the street, so if you are brave enough just get out of that fuckin machine. Oh the drivers those should be in museums , they are just so different and unique in their way, the rudeness of those has no limits. So basically its a struggle to ride a bus, if you are smart enough you will place your body in that self humiliating car. After all this safe ride
Oh yeah and the roads , I forgot this important factor, they are just miserable, its like a roller coaster to drive , there are halls everywhere, especially out of downtown area , ph my god when this country is gonna be a country. There is always a budget for such things , but the ministers take this money and build a house for themselves on that roads, a very nice palace for their own , just not giving a fuck about the people. They do what they want. Where you can see such things? Thats why Im saying that this not a country, its just absurd to call this a country, this just a geographic space where a ethnic group of people live , oh it was too much , to survive , this is the right word.
Im not exaggerating anything , everybody is welcome to Armenia to see all this staff with their own eyes. Come on in , this is an amazing place to be , to entertain yourself seeing all these ridiculous thingsCome on in

Monday, October 23, 2006

Barev Pradafreak...

and now joining us on ArmYouth Blog is Pradafreak...

After reading some posts on ArmYouth, Pradafreak expressed the desire to contribute to ArmYouth as well. I will not say much as I would rather have Pradafreak do the talking but just wanted to say welcome to ArmYouth :) nice to have you on board and look forward to your posts!

A movement of Bicycles and Pedestrians in Yerevan


Critical Mass was organized in Yerevan for the first time ever. This event took place on on October 22nd, as about 20 bicyclists gathered in front of Matenadaran and a few of us pedestrians met up with them there to help them with the start of their bicycle ride in downtown. The bicyclists hit the streets and peddled along and the pedestrians followed. (Not all the way of course, we surely couldn’t keep up!)

The purpose of the event was essentially to support alternative modes of transportation in Yerevan. Sadly, the city is becoming much dirtier and people are becoming sicker with various different respiratory diseases. Onnik’s post at One World “Yerevan is suffocating” sums it up well and refers us to an article on EurasiaNet.org entitled “Armenia: Environmental Change Spurs Respiratory Diseases” which explains the problem regarding pollution, environmental damage and how all of this is beginning to impact the health of Armenian citizens. When you are living in Yerevan, you realize how dirty the air is. For some reason it becomes even more shocking when you see it in statistics and numbers.

The increasing number of cars in Yerevan is one of the factors which has caused for such pollution. Let’s say you want to actually use a bicycle, a more eco-friendly way to travel to work or school, your lungs would probably collapse as you try to peddle uphill on Baghramian Avenue simply with the amount of car emission hitting your face as you gasp to get somewhere. Who needs that? So for that, many people choose not to use a bicycle. That and most bicyclists say it is virtually impossible for them to get around because cars don’t want to give them the right of way and even purposely try to block them from their paths! Also, there is no designated lane for bicycles on the streets.

So Critical Mass movement was organized in Yerevan to somehow respond to this all….

According to Wikipedia, the Critical Mass movement is:
“a bike ride typically held on the last Friday of every month in cities around the world where bicyclists and, less frequently, skateboarders, roller bladers, roller skaters and other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse. Critical Mass is not led, and has no officially-stated message, though it is largely understood to be an effort to promote alternative (non-motorized) modes of transportation and to raise awareness about the safety issues that face commuters using non-motorized forms of transportation when sharing the streets with motor vehicles. Participants meet at a set location and time and enjoy the security and companionship of travelling as a group through city streets intentionally causing a mild and temporary disruption to vehicle traffic. The general philosophy behind the ride is expressed in the widely-used slogan, "We aren't blocking traffic; we are traffic."

However, I don’t tend to agree COMPLETELY with this definition. As the whole movement behind Critical Mass is to support alternative means of trasportation and to encourage “other self-propelled commuters take to the streets en masse”… aren’t your feet yet another way to get around? Especially in Yerevan, walking around in the streets of downtown is much more convenient then hopping onto the metro or marshutka (of course it is a bit more difficult when you get to the outskirts of the city).

Yet here’s another problem- now, as we pedestrians are trying to cross the streets on the designated pedestrian crosswalks when the green light is lit for the pedestrians to walk – we can’t even cross the street! So some of us tend to jaywalk every once in a while ( I myself am guilty!) but the fact of the matter is, you are going to want to cross the street WHENEVER you have the opportunity to because if you don’t, you will either wait 4 hours or get hit by a car. You choose the more eco-friendly route of walking around in the streets of downtown Yerevan and it is ever so difficult because cars don’t want to let you go. Then on top of that, if the Stoplight is red, there are certain expensive cars with specific “Golden numbers” that get the right of way ALWAYS. They don’t stop for pedestrians, drive 100 times faster than they should on these crowded streets and don’t get pulled over by the police because they belong to a certain clan or group of other people like them who have these “golden numbers” (in other words, some friends, family of oligarchs, presidents, ministers…you get the picture!).

So we pedestrians were walking around and crossing the streets and demanding that cars actually respect our right to cross the street at that moment.

I was rather disappointed with the turnout of young Armenian people to this event. More specifically, this idea came from people who were complaining about the traffic and how they cannot cross the streets – and these were the very people that did not turn out to this event! Most of those who took part were people who were volunteers from another country or diasporan Armenians (not ALL of course, there was some representation of young Armenians) On the other hand, there were a few people that joined our cause along the way. And interestingly enough, there was this one group of boys around the age of 10-12 years old who were talking to each other. I couldn’t help but laugh at what they were saying as they explained, “so how come these Diasporans are coming and defending our rights for us? We should defend our rights ourselves!”

Anyway, the act was supported by everybody “in spirit” but a lot of people were sick or had a birthday party or some other event to attend to. So for these reasons, turnout on the pedestrian front was rather weak. However, when it comes to Armenians complaining – they are very willing to do it! Frankly, I have thought about writing this before, but it’s rather sad because so many young Armenians do not feel like they belong to this society. But I will leave that thought for another post. I only hope that sooner rather than later at least the young people will begin to start acting on what they have complaints about and not just sitting and complaining. Especially since the parliamentary elections are coming up in 2007 and presidential elections in 2008…


The photos on this post were taken by Fouad Achiba, EVS Volunteer at Civil Society Institute

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Calling all Bicyclers and Pedestrians in Yerevan!!

Critical Mass and "The Right to Walk" movement will be held in Yerevan on Sunday, October 22nd starting at 5PM...

ABOUT CRITICAL MASS...

Critical Mass is not an organization,
it’s an unorganized coincidence, it’s a movement …
of bicycles, in the streets

hurry up!!!
all you need is … a bicycle
On OCTOBER 22
it’s the first time

the ride starts in front of Matenadaran at 5:30pm

Join our email list criticacanzangvats@yahoogroups.com


we don’t stop traffic … we ARE traffic


AND IF YOU DO NOT OWN A BICYCLE AND ARE SIMPLY TRYING TO CROSS THE STREETS IN YEREVAN...

"The Right to Walk" movement will be held ALSO on Sunday Oct. 22

ABOUT THE RIGHT TO WALK...

For every time YOU CROSS THE STREET
and have THAT WORRY

For every time the CHILDREN
have to RUN ACROSS the STREET

STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS
JOIN US!
22 OCTOBER (SUNDAY)
@Republic Square in front of the BIG TELEVISION 5:00PM