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Call for Russian politicians to reject 'absurd' anti-homosexuality law

‘The law is not just unjust, it is patently absurd’ - John Dalhuisen

Amnesty International has written to Russian politicians urging them to reject a controversial draft law on the “promotion of homosexuality” when it comes before the country’s state Duma later this week.

On 19 December Russia’s lower house of parliament is due to consider the law (Draft Federal Law no. 44554-6) that targets what it describes as the “propaganda of homosexuality among minors”. A vote may be held that day.

In its letter to the Duma, Amnesty is calling on Russian parliamentarians to respect the country’s international obligations to protect the right to freedom of expression and assembly of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The law would make the “promotion of homosexuality among minors” an administrative offence in federal law, with fines of up to 500,000 roubles (£10,000). Because there is no proper explanation of what constitutes “propaganda of homosexuality”, Amnesty believes the law could be interpreted very loosely, not least because other Russian laws also do not define “homosexuality”. Similar laws have been approved in Russian regions, including Ryazan, Arkangelsk Kostroma, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Magadansk, Samar, Bashkortostan and Krasnodar. Some of these laws also prohibit “propaganda of paedophilia among minors”, thus linking the sexual abuse of Children's rights with consensual, private sexual activity between adults.

Legal action by one LGBTI activist recently brought to light the discriminatory character of one such piece of legislation - the Ryazan Region Law concerning “public actions aimed at the propaganda of homosexuality”. Irina Fedotova turned to the UN Human Rights Committee after a court fined her 1,500 Rouble for “public actions aimed at the propaganda of homosexuality”. She had put up posters that read “Homosexuality is normal” and “I am proud of my homosexuality” near a school in Ryazan. In October the Committee found that Russia had violated Ms Fedotova’s right to freedom of expression and her right to non-discrimination.  

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said:

“The law is not just unjust, it is patently absurd.
“It will discriminate against LGBTI people in a country where discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is already widespread.

“This law will deny LGBTI people equality before the law by curtailing the activities of LGBTI human rights defenders, some of whom have already been harassed and assaulted. It will deprive LGBTI people of information that could be crucial for their sexual health.

“This law perversely presumes that the moral, spiritual and psychological development of Children's rights is best served by denying them access to support and information that can help them make informed, autonomous and responsible decisions.

“A decisive action by Russian parliamentarians to reject this discriminatory and shameful law will be a clear signal to number of Russian cities to follow suit and scrap their legislation targeting LGBTI people.”

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