Russian Foreign Ministry: Anti-gay laws do not violate any ‘international obligations’

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A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official has defended the recent controversial passing of anti-gay laws in Russia, saying they do not breach any “international obligations”, and that any claims they violate human rights are “groundless”.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry’s rights envoy, Konstantin Dolgov said: “As to the criticism of our law banning homosexual propaganda we have to reiterate that this criticism is absolutely invalid and groundless”.

He added: “It is an attempt to accuse us of violating international obligations that do not exist”.

He also said that Russia is a party to a number of international conventions that prohibit discrimination on any grounds, including the UN’s convention on the Rights of the Child.

“This convention aims in part to protect children from harmful information, and we believe that promotion of homosexuality could harm them.

“Therefore, we are fulfilling our obligations, but our critics attempt to accuse us of violating some obligations that don’t exist. It is a misleading substitution of notions”.

President Vladimir Putin signed the law in June banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” toward minors, a move that has been criticised as part of a broader crackdown on Russia’s gay community.

Four Dutch tourists shooting a film about gay rights in Russia were arrested last month, the first foreigners to be detained under the new law.

The law has so far sparked controversy among LGBT activists, with some calling for a boycott of the 2014 Games. Others have also called to boycott Russian vodka as a form of protest.

Mr Dolgov on Wednesday denounced calls to boycott the Sochi Games as counterproductive and going against the principles of the Olympic movement, adopted by all countries.

He added that the Olympic charter prohibits athletes from making political gestures during the Winter and Summer Games.

Mr Dolgov also stressed that all athletes and guests of the Olympic games in Sochi would be treated “with maximum hospitality,” but Moscow was expecting them to respect the Russian legislation, including the notorious ‘gay propaganda’ law.

Earlier this month, a Russian sports minister also said: “The law talks not about banning a non-traditional orientation but about other things, about propaganda and implicating minors”.

He added: “No one is banning a sportsman with a non-traditional sexual orientation from going to Sochi. But if he goes out onto the street and starts to make propaganda, then of course he will be brought to responsibility.”

In February, Konstantin Dolgov said the Russian Foreign Ministry is to look into a custody case of a Russian child adopted by a US lesbian former couple who allegedly hid their marriage in order to adopt the child.

“We are seriously worried about the situation concerning the Russian child Yegor Shatabalov, who was adopted in 2007 by US citizen Marcia Ann Brand upon the Kemerovo Regional Court’s decision,” he said. “According to the Russian Embassy in Washington, she was living in a same-sex marriage with a woman named Beth Chapman during the adoption process, but she hid this information deliberately.”