In what has been described as “a throwback to Soviet times”, Saint Petersburg passed a law banning the promotion of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender lifestyles, last week. It is now feared that other Russian cities will follow St Petersburg’s homophobic and bigoted lead, and pass similar laws against the LGBTI community. The Arkhangelsk and the Riazan region have already introduced such legislation.
The law was passed by a majority of 27 to 1, and bans members of the public who acknowledge gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender or inter-sex issues in the presence of a minor. The law is on the same level as pedophilia, and enforces fines of up to $1,500.
A petition has been launched by All Out, which aims to alert the international community to stop what is happening in Russia:
TO: WORLD LEADERS
The party led by Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is pushing discriminatory legislation against lesbian, bi, gay and trans people that could eliminate their freedom to speak publicly and assemble.
Russia is a signatory to numerous international human rights treaties - including the European Convention on Human Rights. We call on you to urgently speak out and hold Russia accountable to its treaty obligations - and stand with LGBTI Russians whose ability to speak for themselves is under attack.
It was in 1993 that President Boris Yeltsin repealed the law against homosexuality, and in 2009 GayRussia launched its campaign for same sex marriages. However, homophobia is still rife in Russia, which can be seen by Moscow’s ban of Gay Pride rallies over the past 6 years, and Chechen authorities claim Chechnya is a gay free zone.
Amnesty International has asked St Petersburg not to enact the new law which Amnesty claims will lead to violence and discrimination against the LGBTI community.
Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said:
“This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to legalise discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city.
“The notion that LGBTI rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching.
“Legislation like that proposed in St Petersburg will only further marginalise LGBTI people, and must be stopped.
“Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for LGBTI people, the Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”