August 19, 2013

The Armenian police withdrew on Thursday a controversial bill that would ban any public promotion of "non-traditional sexual relationships" in the country just days after circulating it through the Internet. 

The proposed amendments to Armenia’s Code of Administrative Offenses envisaged heavy fines for citizens and legal entities propagating homosexuality. They cited the need to protect “the model of the traditional Armenian family” against “phenomena alien to national Armenian mentality.”

The bill prompted concern from some civil rights activists after being posted on the police website earlier this week. The authorities in Yerevan also risked negative reaction from Western governments and human rights groups. The latter strongly criticized similar legislation that was recently enacted in Russia.

Ashot Aharonian, a police spokesman, insisted that the bill was not withdrawn under domestic or foreign pressure. He said the Armenian police chief, Vladimir Gasparian, ordered its removal from the agenda because of its “shortcomings” exposed by critics and the fact that the issue is not a top priority for the police at the moment.