ILGA-Europe’s Statement on proposed 'propaganda' law in St. Petersburg

15/11/2011

ILGA-Europe’s Statement on a draft law on prohibition of the so-called propaganda of 'sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and paedophilia to minors' and introduction of administrative offense proposed by St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly on 11 November 2011.

ILGA-Europe is deeply concerned about such proposal introduced by the Legal Committee of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly. Such legislation would constitute a clear violation of the country’s international obligations to uphold freedom of expression and fight discrimination.

ILGA-Europe is also disturbed by the fact that the draft legislation puts homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender identities on the same footing as paedophilia which is criminally punishable. ILGA-Europe is also worried that the vague language of the proposed legislation would leave dangerously broad space and opportunity for arbitrary interpretation. As there is clear evidence that such proposal aims at existing LGBTI movement, ILGA-Europe is concerned that, if adopted, the legislation will have catastrophically detrimental effect on LGBTI movement and individuals in Russia.

ILGA-Europe has been working closely with LGBTI organisations in Russia for the last three years. It has been a period of growth and empowerment for Russian LGBTI movement. ILGA-Europe believes that the current proposal is a response to the emerging LGBTI movement in Russia and an attempt to prevent it. All current leading LGBTI organisations such as Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out and the organising committee of Side by Side films festival are based in St. Petersburg. The proposed law is nothing less than an attempt by the Russian authorities to discredit them in public eye and to create a legal framework to limit and possibly close down those organisations.

ILGA-Europe urges St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly to immediately abandon this proposal. Instead of enacting discriminatory laws, the Legislative Assembly should work towards elimination of all forms of discrimination including on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. ILGA-Europe would like to remind Russia about its International and European human rights obligations under instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), both of which guarantee the freedom of expression.

ILGA-Europe wants to also draw attention to Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to Member States on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. The Recommendation states that “Member states should take appropriate measures to ensure, in accordance with Article 11 of the Convention, that the right to freedom of association can be effectively enjoyed without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity; in particular, discriminatory administrative procedures, including excessive formalities for the registration and practical functioning of associations, should be prevented and removed; measures should also be taken to prevent the abuse of legal and administrative provisions, such as those related to restrictions based on public health, public morality and public order.”

Brussels, 15 November 2001

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