Edward Snowden criticises Russia’s anti-LGBT laws

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The US whistle blower has said Russia’s treatment of LGBT people is “fundamentally wrong.”

Edward Snowden – who has been living at a hidden location in the country since being granted asylum there in 2013 – made the comments while accepting the Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression’s Bjornson prize via a video link.

The former CIA employee described Russia’s anti-gay legislation and treatment of the LGBT community as a “mistake in policy.”

“It’s wrong in Russia, and it would be wrong anywhere,” The Guardian reports him saying.

“I’ve been quite critical of [it] in the past and I’ll continue to be in the future,” he said, “because this drive that we see in the Russian government to control more and more of the internet, to control more and more what people are seeing, even parts of personal lives, deciding what is the appropriate or inappropriate way for people to express their love for one another… [is] fundamentally wrong.”

However, Snowden – who left Hawaii in May 2013 for Hong Kong, where he leaked the trove of classified documents before leaving for Russia – said he still felt free to express himself online.

“I do. And I think it’s primarily in the context of the fact that most activities happen online.

“I mean, when people ask me where I live, the most honest answer is on the internet.”

It was widely reported that – as part of his asylum application to the country – Mr Snowden was banned from criticising the Russian government and their policies – and it remains to be seen whether these comments will have an effect on his current status.

Russian government passed a gay “propaganda” law in 2013, banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.

Casualties of the law include Russia’s main support group for teenagers who identify as LGBT, Children-404, was quietly blocked by authorities on Russian social media site VKontakte in April.

The country recently received widespread criticism when, after plans emerged to block the entirety of internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia – reportedly over one drugs-related article.

Meanwhile, the politician responsible for the “gay propaganda” law recently said Facebook should be blocked in Russia over its rainbow filter option for profile pictures, released ahead of this year’s Pride celebrations.

The social networking site is the subject of calls for an investigation into whether its use of ‘gay’ emojis – which feature same-sex couples – fall foul of Russia’s controversial ban on the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations”.