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G20 leaders must condemn Russia's homophobic 'gay propaganda' law

Amnesty International has called on world leaders gathering for this week’s G20 meeting in St Petersburg from tomorrow,  to condemn Russia’s draconian homophobic law and do all in their power to persuade the Russian authorities to scrap it.

The law, which came into force in July, imposes fines on individuals and organisations accused of promoting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” which the Russian authorities maintain could morally corrupt Children's rights.

Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director John Dalhuisen said:

“Russia’s new law effectively banning public activism by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals has done nothing but create a climate of intolerance and promote violence by vigilante groups.

“The law provides the framework for a state-sponsored discrimination and follows a pattern of abuse against LGBTI individuals, with officials systematically failing to investigate hate crimes.

“It is yet another measure in a long list introduced under Vladimir Putin’s current presidency to prevent people from enjoying their freedoms and speaking out about human rights.”

Earlier this year - on 29 June - 55 LGBTI activists were detained by police after they attempted to hold a peaceful demonstration in St Petersburg to raise awareness of rising discrimination and violent homophobic attacks in Russia. This was despite the fact that the organisers had informed the city authorities of the date and the purpose of the event, as required by law. However, soon after the event started, police informed protesters that the local authorities had received a complaint saying the meeting violated a ban on “propaganda of homosexuality” among minors, imposed by a municipal law in 2012. When the protesters refused to cease demonstrating and leave, police formed a line and “kettled” them towards police vehicles when the arrests were made.

The authorities later initiated administrative cases against those arrested for failure to abide by the lawful order of a law enforcement officer. Since then all the activists have been released. Meanwhile, other LGBTI organisations in St Petersburg - “Vyhod” (Coming Out) and the LGBTI film festival Bok o Bok (Side by Side) - have also been targeted by the authorities. The organisations and their leaders were also fined under the so-called “foreign agents law” which requires any NGO in Russia that receives foreign support and engages in loosely-defined “political activities” to register as “an organisation performing the functions of a foreign agent” and mark all their public materials accordingly. Both of these organisations have always rejected being defined as “foreign agents”.  

In addition to harassment by the authorities, vigilante groups openly targeting LGBTI people have recently emerged across Russia. The authorities have failed to take action to protect the victims and prosecute those behind the attacks, despite evidence filmed by the perpetrators who have posted videos on the internet.  

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