Graham Jones on the passing in its third reading of the anti-LGBTI bill in St. Petersburg

3 March 2012

By Graham Jones

A couple of weeks ago we looked at the proposed draconian anti-LGBTI legislation in St Petersburg.

This bill passed its final hearing on 29 February. 29 deputies voted in favor of the bill, 5 voted against, and 1 abstained. 15 deputies did not vote (either abstained, or were absent). It is due to be signed into law by the Governor of St Petersburg in less than two weeks.

According to Amnesty International: "The bill aims to introduce fines for 'public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderness amongst minors.' It was originally introduced in November 2011. If it is signed into law by the Governor, it will adversely impact the freedom of expression and assembly of LGBTI individuals, and will prevent LGBTI young people from accessing or sharing information that is vital to their health and well-being, including information about social groups, support networks, and sexual and reproductive health. The bill will also severely curtail the activities and operations of LGBTI organisations in St Petersburg."

Member of the Board of the St Petersburg LGBTI organization “Coming Out” and Chairman of Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov:

"I am ashamed of St. Petersburg, ashamed of the deputies. We know that the majority of them realize very well the absurdity and unjust nature of this law. But those who voted in favor did not vote according to their conscience, but according to their "duty", because this is what their superiors told them to do. They are not able to vote according to their conscience as most of them were given their deputy seats not by the electorate will, but by those in power. Everybody knows how the elections for the Legislative Assembly went on December 4th.”

According to a press release issued by LGBT rights organization Coming Out, United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, the author of the bill, brought a group of aggressive supporters to Friday's hearing, who insulted and threatened gay rights activists and the experts they had brought with them.

Milonov himself sat next to a man who was wearing a T-shirt reading “Orthodoxy or Death,” while the crowd chanted “You are not people,” Coming Out said, describing the hearing as a “triumph of militant ignorance.”

For all the latest on this, follow “Coming Out
In the meantime it’s not too late to ask the Governor of St Petersburg not to sign off the bill into law:

Governor of St Petersburg
Georgy Poltavchenko
St. Petersburg, 191060
Russian Federation
Fax: +7 812 5767827

Salutation: Dear Governor

With copies, if possible, to:
Office of St Petersburg’s Ombudsman
Shcherbakov per. 1-3
191002 St. Petersburg
Russian Federation
Fax: +7 812 5727306

Or you can sign an on line petition to the Governor published by All Out

As the top custodian of Saint Petersburg, city of Tchaikovsky and Russia's "window to the west," we call on you to veto this draconian bill that could silence the speech of ALL Russians.

Russia is a strong, independent country - but we all live in a globalized world. If this bill is signed in to law, I will not and cannot travel to Saint Petersburg, and will urge all of my friends and acquaintances to follow suit.

The proposed legislation violates the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the right to non-discrimination and equality before the law, guaranteed by international human rights treaties to which Russia is a state party. These include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In addition, it violates the Constitution of the Russian Federation itself, which prohibits discrimination and guarantees the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association. This bill will inscribe in law discrimination against LGBTI individuals which is already prevalent in Russia. This will perpetuate the view that LGBTI individuals are not worthy of the same human rights protections as their heterosexual friends, family and colleagues, and contribute to a climate of hostility and violence towards LGBTI individuals.