US: City Council hopeful may lose place after allegations of using homophobic slurs

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A potential for the Glendale, California, City Council may be removed from his position on the city commission, and has already lost political support following accusations of using homophobic slurs online.

Zareh Sinanyan has been booked to speak before the Glendale City Council on Tuesday, in response to accusations of homophobic and racist comments online , reports Daily News.

He is due to speak before the council after, on 5 March, Councilwoman Laura Friedman noted the accusations, pointing towards “extremely disturbing” comments allegedly posted by Sinanyan.

During the council meeting, Friedman said: “I wouldn’t bring this up if this was not a very long series of posts around the Internet on blog sites, on YouTube, that are extremely disturbing, that are racist, homophobic, misogynist, threatening and really beyond something that we as a city can afford to have associated with one of our commissioners.”

A user named Zareh Sinanyan, had been posting comments on Youtube, as well as other websites, including homophobic, Islamophobic and racist views, up until around five years ago, according to an email sent to at least three City Council members.

The allegations arose after a Glendale Blog, sent screenshots of the comments to the council.

Some of the comments were posted in response to other users, however a Facebook comment from September 2012, allegedly left by the City Council hopeful, on the Armenian National Committee of America included a racial slur against mongolians.

Another reads: “Fuck you, fucking faggot.  Name the place bitch. Tell me where you are and I will be happy to meet you and shove a big tennis racquet up your vratsi ass.”

Most of the original comments had been removed from Facebook and YouTube.

Both Friedman and Councilman Ara Najarian had moved to have the City Council consider taking the accused off the city Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee at Tuesday’s meeting.

In an election on 2 April, both Najarian and Friedman are seeking re-election, and are among 12 candidates, including Sinanyan, running for three seats.

Sinanyan was appointed to the committee in November 2009 by Najarian and he served as chairman between 2009 and 2011.

Friedman and Najarian declined to comment on the case ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. A spokesman for the council said that some people believed the comments were placed there as a “cruel hoax”.

Scott Lowe, a blogger who reported the images, said that it appeared the posts were made anonymously, but that when Sinanyan linked his YouTube and Google+ accounts, the site retroactively connected his name to all comments made prior. He said the comments were removed this week, as emails began circulating.

The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting read: “City staff has not verified and does not – and cannot – represent that these posts or any other posts were made by Mr. Sinanyan.”

The accused’s campaign director, Elen Asatryan, said: “Since the City Council has chosen to place this on its agenda, he will address those concerns on Tuesday.”

Several local leaders have pulled out from supporting Sinanyan, until it is proven that he did not write the comments. They include Representative Adam Schiff, Los Angeles mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti, and City Councilman Paul Krekorian.

Krekorian wrote to Sinanyan on Friday to say that he was withdrawing his support. He said: “While I very much hope that the facts will demonstrate that you have no connection to these vile comments, until such time I cannot even impliedly lend my support to intolerant viewpoints and language that are contrary to everything I believe.”

On the campaign Facebook page for Sinanyan, his supporters have referred to these allegations as a “smear campaign”.

“Unfortunately it has become a common practice in this town that if you cannot beat an individual and/or when you feel that you have no possible chance against a candidate of Zareh’s caliber, start spreading lies and rumors in order to distract people from the real issues,” posted Sam Manoukian, a current member of Glendale’s Civil Service Commission.

“I promise you that we will diligently work to find out who is behind this smear campaign and hold them responsible for their actions.”