RUSSIANFEDERATION: Shameful anti-LGBT bill must be voted down!
Paris-Geneva, December 17, 2012. The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federationfor Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT),calls for the Russian Duma to vote down Draft Federal Law n°44554-6, which isscheduled to be examined in first reading on December 19, 2012.
Under the pretext of protecting the rights of minors, the Draft FederalLaw n°44554-6 risks to sanction de factopublic demonstrations and gatherings of human rights defenders advocating forthe rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT).
Ifadopted, this text would indeed amend the Russian Code of Administrative LawViolations and make the promotion of homosexuality among minors anadministrative offence under federal law.
Accordingly,organisations or individuals defending the rights of LGBT or showing theirbelonging to sexual minorities could be condemned, and fined to up to 500,000rubles (about 12,500 euros). Since the concept of “promotion of homosexuality”is not defined in the bill, this would open the door to abusiveinterpretations, with the aim to stifle the legitimate activities of LGBTgroups in favour of fundamental freedoms.
Theexamination of the bill takes place in a context in which over the past yearsLGBT groups in the Russian Federation have increasingly been harassed –legally, judicially, verbally and physically.
Atthe legal level, on February 29, 2012, a bill prohibiting public activities“promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism amongminors” was approved in third reading by the Legislative Assembly of SaintPetersburg. It came into force shortly after. The prohibition of so-called“promotion of homosexuality” is already in force in a number of other regionssuch as Ryazan region since 2006, as well as Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regionssince 2011.
Atthe judicial level, a number of LGBT activists have been facing abusive chargesfor promoting activities defending the rights of LGBT persons: in SaintPetersburg, shortly before the passage of the local law, on February 8, 2012,six LGBT activists were arrested during a protest before the LegislativeAssembly, as they were calling for LGBT rights. Five of them were thenabusively charged under the Administrative Code. On May 4, 2012, the ZentralnyiDistrict Municipal Court of Saint Petersburg sentenced Mr. Nikolai Alexeyev,a prominent LGBT rights activist, lawyer and head of the LGBT Human Rights ProjectGayRussia.Ru, to a 5,000 rubles fine (approximately 127 euros) under charges of“promoting homosexual propaganda” under the recently enacted legislation. Mr.Alexeyev had been arrested on April 12, 2012 while picketing alone in front ofthe Smolny Institute holding a sign which affirmed that “homosexuality is not aperversion”. He was then shortly detained by the authorities before beingreleased.
Atthe verbal level, a number of public figures have taken hostile stances againstLGBT activities. In February 2012, the President of the Legislative Committeeof the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, Mr. Vitaly Milonov, comparedhomosexuality with drug-trafficking and paedophilia. Most recently, an articlepublished in the Rossiyskaya Gazetanewspaper alleged that people of “non traditional sexual orientation” wereexploiting the government to impose their unusual lifestyles upon other people,and suggested that States should have the right to act as a censor in theprivate domain.
Suchslandering statements by officials fuel the level of homophobia within theRussian population, and lead to increasing acts of intimidation against LGBTpersons and activists, notably from extremist groups.
“I firmly denounce this shameful draftlegislation, and I call for its immediate withdrawal, as well as for theimmediate abrogation of similar legislations which are already in force at theregional level” FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today. “If adopted, such a text would furtherconsolidate the repressive legislative arsenal, dramatically strengthened overthe past months to further strike down all human rights activities in thecountry. This is unacceptable” she added.
“Thislaw runs directly counter a ruling by the United Nations Human Rights Committeein October of this year (Fedotova vs Russia) that held Russia in violation ofhuman rights by penalising a picket for homosexuals. Rather than promotingtolerance and complying with the decision as one should have expected thispiece entrenches discrimination and violations of freedom of speech andassembly”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.
TheObservatory calls on the Russian authorities to fully conform with theprovisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and inparticular with Articles 6 (b), 6 (c),and 12.2.
For additionalinformation, please contact:
- FIDH: Arthur Manet / Audrey Couprie: 0033 1 43 55 25 18
- OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: 0041 22 809 49 39