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Armenian Activists Lose Suit Against Newspaper That Named "Homosexual Lobbyists"

"Hate speech and homophobia [are] highly sponsored by high level officials of Armenia," said activists denouncing the decision.

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A court in the Armenian capital of Yerevan dismissed a suit on Friday against the editor of a newspaper who published an article in May naming more than 50 "homosexual lobbyists" as part of a "blacklist of [the] country's and nation's enemies."

The suit was brought by 16 of those named, including Mamikon Hovsepyan, head of the LGBT organization PINK Armenia. The article called for the people named to be ostracized and fired from their jobs. The initial article — which was followed by several others — came as the Armenian government had decided to withdraw from the process of affiliating with the European Union and announced that it would join the Russian-dominated Customs Union.

In a statement denouncing the decision, Hovsepyan suggested that members of the ruling Republican Party had signalled to the court that it should rule in favor of Hovhannes Galajyan, editor of the newspaper Iravunk. MP Hayk Babukhanyan, who founded the newspaper and owns its parent company, attended the trial and received a medal of honor from the Armenian president on October 25.

"We believe that high level support of official reflected on the decision of the Court and this shows once more that hate speech and homophobia is highly sponsored by high level officials of Armenia, and this creates atmosphere of impunity, gives floor for hate crime and fascism in the country," Hovsepyan said in a statement.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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