MEPs to debate rise of homophobia in Russia

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The European Parliament is set to debate the rise of homophobia and xenophobia in Russia on Thursday morning.

In the past 12 months the legal and social situation has sharply deteriorated for non-governmental organisations defending human rights in Russia, particularly for NGOs working in the field of LGBT rights.

Michael Cashman, the British Labour MEP and co-president of the LGBT Intergroup, said: “Behind the smokescreen of ‘traditional values’, Russian authorities turn increasingly authoritarian, limiting freedom of expression and violating human rights—not only against LGBT people, but against all minorities.”

He added: “In this worrying context, we’ll ask the Commission and the European External Action Service what they’ve done to stand straight up for human rights.”

Campaigners note that there has been an increase in violence and state persecution against LGBT people in Russia following the passing of anti-gay laws.

In September, President Vladimir Putin insisted that the legislation only bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” and argued that there was “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.”

Mr Putin added that although some European countries have introduced same-sex marriage, “the Europeans are dying out… and gay marriages don’t produce children.”

In a bizarre move, the International Academy of Spiritual Unity and Cooperation of Peoples of the World nominated President Putin for a Nobel Peace Prize last month.

It was over his efforts this summer to prevent US military against Syria.

Speaking to in August, Stephen Fry described the Russian leader as a “tyrant”.

The Russian city of Sochi is hosting next year’s Winter Olympics and Fry said that athletes taking part should perform a simple gesture to show their solidarity with the LGBT community.