European Parliament denounces Russian ‘gay propaganda’ laws

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The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the upcoming presidential election in Russia today clearly denouncing the regional laws which ban ‘gay propaganda’ around minors.

The St Petersburg city legislature approved the ‘gay propaganda’ bill 31 to 6 in a delayed second reading last week and reportedly increased fines for those convicted under it tenfold.

Three other regions have similar laws in place already.

One MEP said the composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky would be “rolling his grave”.

The parliamentary resolution reminds Russia of its obligations under several international human rights agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The European Parliament “strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation”, and “equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions”.

The Parliament further “calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity”.

It calls on Catherine Ashton, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative, “to convey the European Union’s opposition to these laws”.

Earlier Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, had said that the laws’ “starting point is that homosexuality is wrong, but what is wrong is the promotion of intolerance and discrimination!”.

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, also commented: “Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves. Such laws are simply unacceptable; if Russia isn’t serious about respecting the European Convention on Human Rights, it should simply call the bluff and leave the Council of Europe altogether. And more than statements, these grave human rights abuses must have consequences for the EU-Russia relationship!”

250,000 people worldwide had signed a petition protesting the law and it was condemned by British and American governments before Russia’s second city pushed ahead last week.

Other Russian regions Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma already hinder the promotion of homosexuality in public but St Petersburg’s international stature has brought the issue to the fore.

Meanwhile, 200 people attended a protest in Berlin today outside the Russian Embassy.

Marieluise Beck, the Head of the Commission on Eastern European Politics in the German Bundestag said: “We express solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia.

“No one forced Russia to join the Council of Europe. Joining, however, Russia signed under the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Protesters then marched through the streets of Berlin chanting slogans condemning homophobia in Russia.