Russia: a bill to silence millions
Russian LGBT activists are detained for the simple act of publicly demanding their rights.
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Political leaders in St. Petersburg are about to vote on law that will make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian or transgender. The ruling party led by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin could make millions of people invisible with the stroke of a pen. Human rights defenders around the country are doing everything they can to stop it. They are risking their freedom to organize flashmobs and protests, but they are afraid that it won’t be enough. Right now, the world needs to speak up and tell Russian authorities to drop the bill. Join this call to leaders around the world to reach out to their counterparts in the Russian government – and ask them to reject this discriminatory and anti-democratic law.
TO WORLD LEADERS:
The party led by Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is pushing discriminatory legislation against lesbian, bi, gay and trans people that could eliminate their freedom to speak publicly and assemble. Russia is a signatory to numerous international human rights treaties – including the European Convention on Human Rights. We call on you to urgently speak out and hold Russia accountable to its treaty obligations – and stand with LGBT Russians whose ability to speak for themselves is under attack.
Sign the petition here.
You can see Sergey Chernov’s photo reportage of Sunday’s flash mob against the proposed law on Palace Square here.
Echo Moscow in St. Petersburg · November 20, 2011
Gay activists seized the podium of an international forum to be heard
On November 19, as part of Finland’s presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia opened in Saint Petersburg.
Among the announced priority topics of the forum were equality, tolerance and gender equality.
Representatives of the State Duma, the Government of Saint Petersburg, and the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg (Vatanyar Yagya) spoke at length about how Saint Petersburg is a progressive city, and the protection of human rights is an extremely important task for the governments of Russia and Petersburg.
While one of the scheduled speakers lingered on his way to the podium, LGBT activists from the Russian LGBT Network, Coming Out, and the Side by Side Film Festival took the floor.
Igor Kochetkov’s speech was brief: during the minute and a half that he was able to to hold onto the microphone, Kochetkov managed to report on the homophobic bill [now under consideration in the Petersburg Legislative Assembly], gross human rights violations in Saint Petersburg and Russia, and the lack of reaction on the part of officials to complaints by citizens and organizations. He urged the forum to draft a resolution on this issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about the despotism of the Russian authorities.
During Igor Kochetkov’s speech, the activists, who had made their way into the hall in advance under the guise of forum participants and had nearly been put to sleep by the lovely speeches of the Russian bureaucrats, unfurled banners (“Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!” Russia! Respect Gay and Lesbian Human Rights,” “Let’s Stop the Homophobic Law Together!” “Deputies! Respect the Russian Federation Constitution”) and handed out leaflets.
Officials and representatives of Russian and foreign NGOs listened to the speech in total silence; some applauded. At the exit of the conference room, as they hurried to leave the premises, the activists were met by a security guard who escorted them to the front door of the hotel.
An activist with a video camera who remained in the hall managed to record the following speech, by the Russian Presidential Plenipotentiary in the Northwest Federal District, which was full of sparkling humor. He said that the applause after the appearance by the activists was actually applause for Russia’s democracy, and that garden homes were the pillar of the strong Russian family.