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The authorities in Russia should act to prevent the passing of discriminatory and homophobic legislation

posted 14 Feb 2012, 05:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 6 Mar 2012, 22:24 ]
The authorities in Russia must act to prevent the passing of discriminatory and homophobic legislation. On February 8, 2012, the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly passed in second reading a bill to impose fines for “public activities to promote sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transsexuality.” The maximum penalties for violating the provisions of the bill are 5,000 roubles ($170) and, for officials, 50,000 roubles ($1,725). Legislation of this kind is discriminatory and an unwarranted restriction on freedom of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals. As such, it is in violation of Russia’s international human rights obligations.

This bill is profoundly repugnant in the manner in which it seeks to equate homosexuality with a crime like paedophilia. Similar legislation has already been enacted in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma.

St. Petersburg is home to a number of important LGBT organizations, including the LGBT organization Coming Out, the Russian LGBT Network, and Side by Side LGBT film festival. The St Petersburg LGBT Organisation Coming Out says: “If this law is passed, Russian LGBT will live in fear of punishment just for being open about sexual orientation in their social environment. It paves the way to legalized discrimination, justifies violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Moreover, under the pretence of protecting minors, this law in fact will lead to further isolation and greater number of suicides by homosexual adolescents in a country that is already leading in the numbers of teenage suicides. “

AlloutAmnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch have called for this legislation to be abandoned.

As a recent blog on Rights in Russia pointed out: “Apart from lobbying the authorities in Russia, we should not forget the brave people in St Petersburg who are publicly protesting against this bill. They deserve our deep respect and will welcome messages of international solidarity reflecting widespread revulsion against these grim homophobic proposals.”