The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 2: Fan the Flames of Homophobia
Russia: New Laws against Transgenders, Bisexuals and Gays
Polina Savchenko
November 13, 2011

On November 11, 2011, the legal committee of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly introduced a draft law prohibiting the so-called propaganda of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, and pedophilia to minors” and [making such “propaganda”] an administrative offence. The bill was introduced by United Russia. This law seeks to demonize LGBT communities.

By combining homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality into one law with sexual crimes against minors (pedophilia), the members of the Legislative Assembly are indulging in a gross manipulation of public opinion. Their goal is to pass an anti-democratic law, directed at severely limiting human rights in St. Petersburg.

In the name of “public interest”, the members of the Legislative Assembly decided to ignore federal law, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, Council of Europe Recommendations and other decrees by international organizations of which Russia is a member. However, no public discussions were held.

It is also obvious that adoption of this law violates the interests and rights of minors. Russia leads the world in the number of teenage suicides, and ignoring the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity can lead to tragic consequences.

This bill is absurd, both in terms of legal logic, and in terms of plain common sense. So what is the real goal? It is clear that adoption of this law would impose significant limitations on the activities of LGBT organizations. Organizers of public events cannot restrict access of minors to any open area; people under 18 can be there just by chance. Consequently, it makes any public campaigns aimed at reducing [homophobia] and hate crime prevention impossible.

Adoption of this law will have detrimental effects on the entire Russian LGBT movement. The only interregional LGBT organization, the Russian LGBT Network, the largest grassroots LGBT organization, Coming Out , the LGBT film festival Side by Side, and other LGBT groups are headquartered in St. Petersburg. The LGBT movement in Russia has become so noticeable that the homophobic government can no longer ignore its existence. The state is attempting to destroy LGBT organizations using the legal framework and to discredit them in the minds of the people.

Recently, a similar law was passed in Arkhangelsk. Today, St. Petersburg is the target, and there is a real danger that tomorrow it will be adopted on the federal level.

We call for the consolidation and mobilization of the international community in order to support Russian LGBT rights defenders through all possible and available means, including contacts with your authorities, dissemination of information to your media, letters of protest to the Russian embassies around the world. We received information about the upcoming bill just yesterday and will keep you updated about the developments, our demands, and in which ways you can support us.

Please, don’t hesitate to write to us with your ideas of support and inform of your actions, so that we ensure that our efforts remain coordinated to achieve the best impact.

In this time of real need, we hope for your help.

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Filed under activism, feminism, gay rights, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, Russian society

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