ADDED ON: 12/11/2018

What We Talk About When We Talk About Gender in Armenia

12/10/2018 | Transitions Online

“I’m asking you a simple question: Do you have any responsibility towards the LGBT community?” This was one of many inflammatory questions addressed to Armenia’s acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a historic televised debate last week ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Pashinyan and Vigen Sargsyan, the first deputy president of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), engaged in a vitriolic exchange about national values. The conversation touches on one of the election’s hot-button issues: gender. The term “gender” does not refer to an identity marker, but rather acts as a dog whistle for anything that falls outside of gender norms. The prospect of liberalizing gender norms, which for Armenia’s militaristic and traditionalist culture are seen as an existential threat, has caused some hand-wringing in the lead up to elections.

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