Nine LGBT activists and their friends were attacked in a village in southern Armenia by a group of 30 men, reported Pink Armenia, a Yerevan-based NGO. Two were hospitalized with serious injuries as a result of the August 3 assault, which the activists said was the worst attack on LGBT Armenians in memory.
The attack posed a challenge for the new authorities, which was brought into power by a wave of liberal activists but still has to maintain the support of the country's socially conservative majority. As of three days after the attack took place, no senior official had addressed the issue.
"We expected some kind of statement or condemnation from the government but there has been nothing so far," Mamikon Hovsepyan, the executive director of Pink Armenia, told Eurasianet. "The government is downplaying LGBT issues for the present in order to concentrate on Electoral Code reform and cracking down on corruption so they are unlikely to be particularly vocal on such issues for the time being.”
According to Pink Armenia, the activists in the village of Shurnukh had faced sustained harassment in recent months.
On August 2, Hayk Hakobyan, an LGBT activist and founder of the Rainbow Armenia Initiative, invited friends to his house in Shurnukh. After people had gathered, some villagers began throwing stones at his house and screaming homophobic slurs, Hakobyan reported. One of the attackers was Hakob Arshakyan, the former mayor of the village, Hakobyan said. “My dad recently filed a complaint for corruption against our former mayor. I think this might have been the direct motive for the attack,” he told the LGBT-rights outlet Gay Star News.
The following day, on August 3, several villagers demanded the activist come outside “to talk.”
“We told the man there was nothing to talk about,” Elvira Meliksetyan, one of the activists, told the news site epress.am. “He then broke into the house and began to swear at us.” Read more via Eurasia