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Armenia’s Homophobic Deputy Speaker Needs a Lesson in Christianity

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The Armenian Deputy Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov, who called a May attack on a gay-friendly bar in Yerevan as “completely right and justified,” fired back against the NGO “Public Information and Need of Knowledge” for lodging an official complaint with the National Assembly’s Ethics Committee in connection with his statement. Two weeks ago he stated “as a Christian man I am against any unchristian and unlawful conduct, including homosexuality.” He later added “if the Bible accepts homosexuality, I am ready to go back on my word.”

In May, the home-made bomb attack on the gay-friendly DIY Rock Pub and the subsequent verbal assaults on the participants of the Diversity March, mistakenly dubbed as a gay march by neo-conservatives, stirred a national debate both in Armenia and in the affluent diaspora. Commenting on the unprecedented uproar against the hate crime, Sharmazanov said “[…] homosexuals have created a den of perversion in our country and have a goal of alienating the society from its moral values, completely right and justified.”

Sharmazanov’s reprehensible views on homosexuality fall in line with the doctrine of the Armenian Church hierarchy. As an Armenian orthodox Christian, who is proud of his religious and cultural heritage, I am saddened and outraged by such a response. I know that the views of the hierarchy are not in keeping with my reading, and that of many scholars and theologians, of the gospels.

I wonder if Sharmazanov is aware that Christ – his Savior – said nothing to condemn homosexuality? By publicly stating that he will reconsider his position if the Bible accepts homosexuality, Sharmazanov may think he’s being clever, but in actuality he is showing that he either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that that the Bible is about God’s love of God’s children and not about sexuality. Like the church hierarchs, Sharmazanov is willfully misrepresenting the Bible to fit his prejudices. This is not what our faith should do.

Mr. Sharmazanov and the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church hierarchy should open their minds and allow new truths to be illuminated as did the founders of the religion, St. Thaddeus, St. Bartholomew, and St. Gregory the Illuminator. It starts with ceasing to condemn LGBT people and opening a dialogue that embraces God’s love of all God’s children. This is what it means to be a Christian.

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