Russia: Alarming enthusiasm for anti-gay propaganda law in Duma vote
25 Jan 2013
The Russian State Duma has voted today with an alarming majority in favour of a draft law to ban ‘homosexual propaganda”.
The amendment to the administrative code of offences prohibits the ‘propaganda of homosexuality’ to protect children and was passed by a majority of 388 against one, with one abstention. The bill will undergo a second reading in a matter of months.
ARTICLE 19 believes that this bill is part of a deeply concerning wider effort by the Russian authorities to promote ‘traditional values’ at the expense of protecting universal human rights.
Agnes Callmard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 said:
“It’s disturbing to see such a high level of enthusiasm in the Russian Parliament for this draft law. Using the guise of protecting children they gave approval to draft legislation which will allow the State to target and silence LGBT activists. They are half way through the legislative process, but judging from the vote today - it looks like they’re pretty much already there.”
“The proposed law blatantly discriminates against LGBT people. It will deprive them of their fundamental right to freedom of expression and will prevent access to vital information for all people.”
“This isn’t just about banning pride marches, film festivals and book fairs, although such outrageous acts of censorship will no doubt be a consequence of this law. The proposed law will also prevent access to information about health services and education, and impact LGBT youth in particular. To suggest that sharing any information about sexual orientation harms children is a deliberate exploitation of “traditional values” to repress and marginalise a minority group. People need information to be able to participate fully in society.”
The Russian State Duma’s attempt to entrench discrimination against LGBT people at the federal level shows blatant disregard to their international human rights obligations and the decisions of international human rights bodies, including the European Court of Human Rights. ARTICLE 19 notes that ten provinces and cities in Russia have already adopted regional prohibitions on “homosexual propaganda”, including: St Petersburg, Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Kostroma, Magadan, Novosibirsk, Krasnodar, Samara, Bashkortostan and Kaliningrad. Other regions and cities in Russia are considering similar measures.
Recently, in Fedodova vs. Russia, the UN Human Rights Committee found that the application of a similar law on in Ryazan region violated the right to freedom of expression.
ARTICLE 19 has been monitoring the Bill to ban homosexual propaganda. For more, click here.
Recent amendments to Russian legislation have also put severe restrictions on holding pickets, demonstration and protests. For further information please click here.