Tag Archives: Coming Out (Vykhod)

We Have No Honor to “Play Off”

Playoff for the Honor of Our City. Obvodny Canal, Petersburg, February 23, 2013

 

Unfortunately, we have no honor to “play off”. . .

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Gay Groups Continue to Fight Unfair Treatment
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
February 20, 2013

The small village of Novosyolki, southwest of St. Petersburg, has become City Hall’s favorite site to send St. Petersburg’s LGBT rights activists to rally, as the organizers of another protest planned this week found out when they were told that 15 sites they had suggested within the city were unavailable for their assembly. Meanwhile, a local court found no violations in City Hall’s continued refusals to let LGBT activists rally in the center.

On Monday, City Hall rejected a permit for the Democratic St. Petersburg movement to rally in the city against the national bill forbidding the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors, which is about to be accepted by the State Duma in its second hearing. It was passed in the first hearing on Jan. 25. Similar local laws have already been enacted in St. Petersburg as well as in ten other regions across Russia.

As the law on public assemblies requires the administration to suggest an alternative site if the one suggested by the organizers is unavailable, the organizers of the protest that had been planned for Sunday, Feb. 24 were told to hold it in Novosyolki.

“I didn’t go there, but I checked it on the map; it’s beyond the Ring Road, and takes two hours to get to from St. Petersburg,” said Natalya Tsymbalova, an activist with Democratic St. Petersburg and the Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality.

“There is an aerodrome, a dump and a cemetery there. It looks like they have found the most remote location which is still officially part of the city.”

According to Tsymbalova, City Hall first dismissed five suggested sites last week, saying that other events were scheduled to be held at the first four, while large-scale road maintenance works would be held at the fifth. She said the organizers had not been given the reasons for the alleged unavailability of the ten other suggested sites, which include Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Square, as well as smaller locations where other rallies are usually authorized.

Tsymbalova said the third application, containing five other suggested locations, would be submitted to City Hall shortly.

“We’re running out of time and there’s already little hope,” she said.

“They look determined not to let us go anywhere but Novosyolki.”

As the planned date of the rally approaches, chances of the rally eventually being authorized are growing slimmer.

“If they still don’t let us have a rally, we have an idea to hold a kind of flash mob by walking around all the rejected sites to see what is really happening at them on Feb. 24; to see if there are some real events taking place there or if we have been given the runaround, so we could use it in court,” Tsymbalova said.

“We’ll definitely file a complaint about this absolutely insolent and mocking rejection and we hope to win in the city court or the Supreme Court, because it’s obviously unlawful.”

On Monday, the Smolninsky District Court dismissed a complaint by LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out), which was given Novosyolki as the only available site to hold a protest against the anti-gay law ahead of its first hearing at the State Duma in December.

According to Ksenia Kirichenko, the coordinator of Vykhod’s legal aid program, a representative of City Hall described the village as the most appropriate location for such an event.

“Novosyolki is becoming a favorite tool for effectively banning LGBT rights rallies,” Kirichenko said in a news release.

In 2011, City Hall redirected the organizers of the St. Petersburg Gay Pride event to Novosyolki. Instead, an attempt to hold the rally was undertaken in the city center on Senatskaya Ploshchad, beside the Bronze Horseman monument, and resulted in arrests and fines.

According to Kirichenko, Vykhod will appeal the Vyborgsky District Court’s ruling.

Photo by Chtodelat News

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How can you help fight anti-gay laws in Russia? (international campaign)

"Deputies, start solving real problems!"

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www.gayrussia.eu

St. Petersburg:

How can you help fight anti-gay laws in Russia?

Join the international campaign

10,000 letters to the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations

Many of you have been asking us how you can help to fight the bill in the most effective way. This press release aims to answer your questions as well as shed more insight on the context.

In the last few days, GayRussia has been consulting with its activists, other Russian-based LGBT activist groups and legal specialists to think of how to best address the current circumstances.

First, you need to know that the bill is politically motivated: Russia’s parliamentary elections will take place on December 4 and targeting LGBT is a way to earn support from religious and nationalist organizations. The bill received support from Valentina Matviyenko, the former governor of the city who is now the speaker of the upper chamber of parliament. Politicians in Moscow have said that they are ready to implement a similar law in the Russian capital, as well as at the federal level.

Second, we want to stress that a ban on the promotion of LGBT rights in public spaces has de facto been enforced in Russia since 2005. Implementation of this law is only the materialization of what has been a sad reality for years. For several years, GayRussia has been denouncing the absence of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association for Russian LGBT. Over 300 public events for which GayRussia applied for permits have been banned, LGBT groups partnering with us have been denied registration by the government in several regions, and our activists have been often fined, arrested, convicted by courts and humiliated. They have brought twenty cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Russian prosecutors have refused to open criminal investigations against Mufti Talgat Tadjudin, Oleg Betin, the governor of Tambov, and the former mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, for inciting hatred against or calling for the murder of LGBT. The Russian courts have even legalized the demeaning word “gomik” (faggot), which was used by Yuri Luzhkov when referring to gays.

Third, we see this law as a unique chance for the Russian LGBT community to re-mobilize itself, as it did in 2002, against an attempt to re-criminalize homosexuality, and in 2006, on the eve of the first Moscow Gay Pride event.

Russia’s LGBT community has historically been divided, and GayRussia would like to hope that today’s attacks by politicians in St. Petersburg will serve as a lesson for LGBT groups in St. Petersburg who have been appearing in the media since 2005 arguing that both gay pride events and gay marriage are provocations.

This anti-LGBT law is a chance for the Russian LGBT community to work against homophobic politicians and the government rather than to work against each other. Our enemies are the homophobes: LGBT rights campaigners should not attack each other. If we stand united, we have more chances than if we stand on two opposite sides where we only fuel the anti-gay rhetoric.

Fourth, the St Petersburg law is nothing new in Russia. Similar laws have already come into force in Ryazan (in 2006) and in Arkhangelsk (in 2011).  More frightening, it is being discussed in Moscow, and also in Ukraine. It has also been discussed in Lithuania in recent years.

GayRussia is the only Russian LGBT group which campaigned against the anti-gay law in Ryazan in 2009, when Nikolay Bayev and Irina Fedotova (Fet) were arrested and fined for holding up a banner in front of a local school stating that “Homosexuality is normal.” The Constitutional Court has already rendered a decision arguing that the law did not violate the constitution. The activists have lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and with the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

These two cases are today a chance to make anti-gay laws history not only in Russia but in the whole of Europe.

The faster the European Court of Human Rights considers the case of Nikolay Bayev vs. Russia, the faster we will get a decision. And this decision will be binding for Russia. More important, it will set a precedent that will apply to Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Ukraine, Lithuania and other parts of Europe.

JOIN THE INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN!

At this stage, your support and your mobilization can help achieve a global solution to this problem, not only in St. Petersburg, but also in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk, in Moscow, in Ukraine, and elsewhere.

By asking the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee to prioritize the case of Bayev and Fedotova, you can make a difference globally. GayRussia offers template letters that you can print and send. An envelope, a stamp, and a piece of paper is all you need!

If ten thousand of you write a letter to these two institutions, IT CAN MAKE A HUGE CHANGE. Each of your letters will be appended to the files of each case. The more letters are filed, the more chances we have of showing the importance of these cases.

Templates of letters to send are available here:

http://www.gayrussia.eu/en/campaigns/model_letters.php

It will then be up to us to do the job and ensure that we win the case. We assure you that our efforts to fight in court and win the case will be as tireless and unstoppable as our previous campaigns have been. Our aim is to defeat our Constitutional Court and our homophobic government. This year, GayRussia won the first-ever LGBT case in Russia (on the banning of the Moscow Pride event) in the European Court of Human Rights.

Today, GayRussia and other Russian LGBT groups — Equality St. Petersburg, Radio Indigo, Russian Community LGBT Grani, Marriage Equality, Moscow Pride Committee, Article 282, and Pride House Sochi — are launching the campaign

10,000 letters to the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations against Anti-Gay Laws in Russia

The campaign, which is launched under the patronage of the IDAHO Committee (France), has received support from the Kaleidoscope Trust (UK), Gay Liberation Network (USA), Outrage! and Peter Tatchell Foundation (UK). It has received media support from our longtime international media partners, Gay City News (USA), Yagg.com (France), UkGaynews.org.uk (United Kingdom), Queer.de (Germany), Gayby.net (Belarus), and will be chronicled on reporter Rex Wockner’s online networks.

It kicked off with an article by Nikolai Alekseev published in The Guardian.

QUOTES

“This campaign goes beyond Russia, our aim is to put a barrier to any attempts limiting freedom of speech for LGBT people in Europe,” said Nikolai Alekseev, founder of GayRussia and Moscow Pride.

“10,000 of you can make a change simply by buying a stamp and an envelope,” added Mr Alekseev.

“IDAHO stands united with our brothers and sisters in Eastern Europe to put an end to these anti-gay laws and we call on each of you to spend a few minutes of your time and write to the European Court and the UN to try to make a change,” said Louis-Georges Tin, President of the IDAHO Committee.

“The IDAHO Committee wrote to the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Human Rights committee asking both of these institutions to grant priority treatment to the case of Bayev and Fedotova and is calling on any LGBT organization and any individuals to do the same,” added Mr Tin.

“The Kaleidoscope Trust strongly supports this action and we are asking all our supporters to join this letter writing campaign. Politicians in all corners of the world like to attack LGBT people to win popularity. But we can take action now to demonstrate that our rights are as valid as everybody else’s and these legal challenges are a vital step,” said Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust.

“World leaders like Putin, Obama and Medvedev pretend they support human rights, but then support the violent suppression of ‘Occupy’ protesters, the murders of democracy activists in Egypt, and now, the escalation of attacks on the free speech rights of LGBTs and others in Russia.  It is our responsibility to forcefully denounce the hypocrisy of ‘our’ leaders, to directly organize against them, and to foil their plans for violence, exploitation and oppression by any means necessary,” said Andy Thayer, Gay Liberation Network co-founder.

“We are very proud to support Russia’s courageous, inspiring LGBT activists as they challenge these latest attacks on LGBT human rights and freedom of expression. We urge the European Union, United Nations and Council of Europe to ensure Russia’s compliance with the human rights conventions it has signed and pledged to uphold,” said Peter Tatchell from Outrage! in London.

What you should do right now:

  • Ask the European Court of Human Rights to give priority treatment to the case of Bayev vs Russia (67667/09). Use the template available here:

http://www.gayrussia.eu/en/campaigns/model_letters.php

  •  Ask the UN Human Rights Committee to give priority treatment to the case of Fedotova vs Russia (1932/2010). Use the template available here:

http://www.gayrussia.eu/en/campaigns/model_letters.php

Other things you can do:

  • Ask your minister of foreign affairs to raise the question of anti-gay laws with their Russian counterparts.
  • Ask Catherine Ashton (if you are a EU citizen) to remind Russia that LGBT rights are human rights and that anti-gay laws are unacceptable from a trading partner of the EU.
  • Ask the Council of Europe’s General Secretary to remind Russia of its obligation to strictly apply the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms that it ratified.

List of contact details if you want to take any action listed above

European Court of Human Rights

Fax: +33 3 88 41 27 30

Post: European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe, 67075 Strasbourg, France

UN Human Rights Committee

Post: Palais Wilson, 52 rue des Pâquis, CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland

Thorbjorn Jagland

Council of Europe General Secretary

Phone:  +33 3 88 41 20 00

Post: Avenue de l’Europe , 67075 Strasbourg Cedex, France

Catherine Ashton

Vice President of the European Commission, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

Email: COMM-SPP-HRVP-ASHTON@ec.europa.eu

Phone:  +32 2 584 11 11

Post: European External Action Service, 1046 Brussels, Belgium

ATTENTION! At the site www.pamfax.biz/en/ you can send your fax to Strasbourg absolutely for free! Use this opportunity if you want to send a fax instead of a letter!

And also keep us informed of your efforts by writing to us at: media(at)gayrussia.eu !

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"Deputies, don't incite hatred and homophobia!"

Photos from this past Sunday’s flash mob action in Arts Square against the Petersburg anti-gay bill, organized by Coming Out, courtesy of Sergey Chernov.

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Vitaly Milonov, Petersburg Lawmaker

Vitaly Milonov

Kommersant Saint Petersburg
November 24, 2011

[…]

According to Vitaly Milonov, [consideration of the bill he introduced into the Saint Petersburg Legislative Assembly, which would make “promotion of homosexuality” an administrative offense punishable by fines] was postponed “due to legal ambiguity.” “There are certain slippery aspects in the wording of the bill that might hinder its implementation. Basically, these are terminological ambiguities. For example, the concept of ‘lesbianism.’ It could happen that residents of the Greek island of Lesbos who promote their own lifestyle would be subject to fines,” Mr. Milonov explained to Kommersant. In addition, there is no clarity in how the concept of ‘promotion’ [literally, “propaganda” of homosexuality] would be applied, which the legislative assembly’s legal office also pointed out. Vitaly Milonov admitted that his committee is now considering a legal analysis of the text of the bill prepared by the NGO Lawyers for Constitutional Rights and Freedoms, which “the homosexualists sent” to Mr. Milonov. The multi-page text of the opinion (which Kommersant has obtained a copy of) concludes that the proposed bill is unconstitutional, contradicts a number of international conventions, and “also contains significant shortcomings [from the standpoint] of legal procedure.” Deputy Milonov had to agree with the legal experts and the sexual minorities, saying that now all amendments [to the bill] are being “put in order.”

However, a source in the Legislative Assembly has told Kommersant that deputies are unlikely to consider the bill on fines for gay agitators even at their final session [before the December 4 elections]. “We didn’t expect such a violent reaction in the press. The bill, which is Vitaly Milonov’s pet project, ended up on the agenda through a strange turn of events: United Russia thought that it might generate [positive] ‘campaign buzz’, winning over the conservative part of society. But now we see the opposite effect: the entire country has learned the names of the ‘main homophobes in Russia’ — Milonov and Babich. (LDPR deputy Elena Babich is an active supporter of punishments for gay propagandists.)  This might have a negative impact during the upcoming elections. The next  Legislative Assembly can decide what to do with this foul-smelling story,” the source in the Legislative Assembly told Kommersant.

The gay community notes with satisfaction the contrary effect [generated by] the United Russia initiative. Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT organization Coming Out, told Kommersant that if the bill becomes law he will “be the first to have it applied.” “As soon as the law takes effect, I’ll go right to the city prosecutor’s office and demand that Milonov and Babich be prosecuted for promotion of homosexuality,” Mr. Kochetkov promised. “You can’t imagine how people’s attention to our problems has grown after their public statements. We’ve literally been flooded with letters and calls of support. In Russia alone, we’ve collected over ten thousand signatures on a petition against passage of the law.”

Natalia Yevdokimova, secretary of the Petersburg Civil Rights Council and former three-time Legislative Assembly deputy, notes the “extreme illiteracy” of the amendments drafted by Mr. Milonov. “It’s bad enough that he uses non-legal terms, but ‘apples and oranges’ are also mixed up in this document. They want to cram a criminally punishable offense — promotion of pedophilia — into the law on administrative offenses, but pedophilia is purely a matter for the Criminal Code. And I’m confident that any court would immediately toss out these amendments for their flagrant illiteracy,” said Ms. Yevdokimova. It was unclear to her why this bill has appeared on the eve of the elections: “The pre-election stress is bad enough as it is in the entire city, in the country. It is unclear why United Russia wants to add fuel to the fire. It’s just stupid.”

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www.zaks.ru/new/archive/view/67190
March 8, 2010

[…]

Moreover, Milonov noted that former US secretary of state Condoleeza Rice “behaves like a monkey.” “Everyone in United Russia knows that Condoleeza Rice has monkey brains,” Milonov said.

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The following was posted on November 21, 2011, on the LiveJournal blog of Sergei Shestakov, a deputy in Petersburg’s Avtovo municipal district council and a candidate in the upcoming elections to the Petersburg Legislative Assembly. A member of the A Just Russia party, he is running in the same electoral precinct as Vitaly Milonov.

Today I was informed that Vitaly Milonov was again buying off voters — this time not at his constituent outreach office, but at the Orbita movie theater. I decided to find out how much money from the budget Vitaly Milonov had blown on buying food packages.

A very long queue of dozens of people who had braved the cold after hearing about United Russia’s incredible generosity had formed outside the building.

In the Orbita theater itself, people who came were handed food parcels to the tune of six hundred rubles each. The plastic bags, emblazoned with the inscription “All-Russia Popular Front” and [the organization’s] emblem, each contained a tin of caviar, a box of candies, a cake, canned peas and corn, coffee, and other products. United Russian and Milonov campaign brochures had been carefully planted in each parcel. The people in [United Russia] scarves [who handed out the parcels] did not specify how to eat [the brochures].

When my campaign agent asked the staff (the women handing out the presents, who walked around in United Russia scarves) whether they thought this was bribery of voters, they confidently replied that it was the social security department that was handing everything out. The Milonov Social Security Department was generous: all the rooms were filled with boxes, and it was hard to elbow one’s way past them.

People stood outside in the light frost, waiting for rations, as if this were still the time of the Siege [of Leningrad, during WWII]. The fact that the products purchased were the cheapest, and not very fresh, hardly bothered them at all.

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The Campaign against Petersburg’s Proposed Homophobic Law

Breaking News: Interfax, Gazeta.Ru and other sources are now reporting that during its session today (November 23), the Petersburg Legislative Assembly has decided to postpone indefinitely the second reading of its draft law banning the “promotion of homosexuality.” United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov, the bill’s author, is quoted as saying that the postponement was necessary in order to “clarify all the legal definitions involved in this law.”

The Mariinsky Palace, home of the legislative assembly, was picketed this morning by several dozen LGBT activists and their supporters.

It’s clear that the spirited fightback by local activists and the extremely negative publicity the proposed bill has generated in the international press and international public opinion have begun to sway minds in the legislative assembly.

Help activists keep up the pressure by:

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Amnesty International Slams Gay Law
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
November 23, 2011

A protester holds a sign Sunday reading ‘I’m a lesbian. A person, not propaganda.’ Photo: Sergey Chernov

The St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly is encountering increased criticism from within Russia and abroad as it gets ready to pass United Russia’s anti-gay law in a second reading. Meanwhile, Russian officials are talking about expanding the anti-“gay propaganda” law proposed by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev’s party to the entire nation.

Amnesty International, which condemned the draft law as “draconian,” warned that the measure will rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBT people and organizations and their reaching out to the media and the Internet, severely curtailing the publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice.

“This bill is a thinly-veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said in a statement Friday.

“The notion that [LGBT] rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching… Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for [LGBT] people, the Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

Earlier, the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights addressed the Legislative Assembly in an open letter, reminding it that Russia is party to both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which make clear that the freedom to receive and impart information cannot be limited, except under the ambit of public order.

“We’re getting great behind-the-scenes support, with certain [European] deputies and ministers calling the Legislative Assembly’s deputies and [its United Russia chair Vadim] Tyulpanov and speaking to them,” said Igor Kochetkov, director of the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out).

“Sometimes even we don’t know who exactly is calling, but we know that it’s happening.”

The All Out web site launched a petition against the bill Monday. It had been signed by 115,345 people around the world by Tuesday evening. [Editor’s Note. On Wednesday morning, it had been signed by 157,265 people.]

On Saturday, LGBT activists seized the podium of a forum for NGOs from Northern Europe and Russia, whose priority topics were equality, tolerance and gender equality. Local officials spoke about the tolerance program and human rights protection in the city.

Kochetkov, who managed to get hold of the microphone between the speeches, urged the forum to draft a resolution on the issue, and the forum’s international participants to inform their governments about gross violations of human rights in Russia.

Activists in the audience had posters, one of which read “Tolerance is for society, not only for international forums!”

The draft law, which was introduced by the chair of the Legislative Assembly’s legislation committee and United Russia deputy Vitaly Milonov on Nov. 11, was passed by the Legislative Assembly almost unanimously in its first hearing on Nov. 16.

Thirty seven deputies voted for the law, one against and one abstained.

The second hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 23. The bill will become a law when it has passed three hearings and is signed by the governor.

In the past week, the bill was backed by a federal official and a number of Moscow deputies who suggested a similar draft law might be introduced in Moscow as well.

Valentina Matviyenko, Chair of the Federation Council and former St. Petersburg Governor, supported the bill when speaking in the Ryazan Oblast on Thursday, adding it might be expanded throughout the whole of Russia.

“If I were a member of the Legislative Assembly, I would support this bill, because no one has the right to involve a child in things like that,” Matviyenko was quoted as saying.

“And everything that destroys the mind and health of a child, a minor — all this should be strictly blocked. If this law has a positive effect, then we can consider expanding it to the national level.”

Natalya Yevdokimova and Ksenia Vakhrusheva of the Yabloko Democratic Party see the bill as a populist pre-election stunt by United Russia as polls show the party rapidly losing popularity.

Alexander Vinnikov of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council sees the bill as more than just a pre-election stunt.

Drawing comparison to anti-gay legislation in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that adopted laws punishing homosexuals in the 1930s, Vinnikov explained the bill as an attempt at consolidating society on the foundation of hatred toward a minority.

“Every totalitarian regime started from persecuting gays. I urge the public to condemn this bill as a drift toward totalitarianism,” he said Tuesday.

As public protests in St. Petersburg continued, the activists encountered arrests and violence. Two activists were detained outside the Legislative Assembly on Nov. 16 and charged with holding an unauthorized rally.

On Sunday, after the largest rally against the bill held so far, which took place on Palace Square near the Winter Palace, several supporters were beaten by young men wearing black coats and hoods. The rally consisted of a dozen activists standing with posters, while about 150 supported them with applause.

A group of social workers were assaulted soon after the rally as they walked near the Moika River, close to Palace Square. Six to eight attackers charged them, punching and kicking them, activists said.

The attack left a young Russian woman with a bruised face, another with a cut lip, and one German man with a broken tooth, according to Vykhod’s press officer Gulya Sultanova.

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http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/russia-st-petersburg-urged-to-halt-draconian-anti-gay-bill
November 18, 2011
Russia: St. Petersburg urged to halt draconian anti-gay bill

Amnesty International today urged authorities in Russia’s second largest city not to enact a homophobic bill, saying it would threaten freedom of expression and fuel discrimination against the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

The bill, which St. Petersburg’s city assembly passed nearly unanimously on the first of three readings on Wednesday, effectively bans public events by LGBTI people and organizations under the pretext of protecting minors.

If enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of US$1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”

“This bill is a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Russia’s second-biggest city,” said Nicola Duckworth, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme Director.

“The notion that LGBTI rights activists are somehow converting Russia’s youth through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable, if the potential effects of this new law weren’t so dangerous and wide-reaching.”

Local LGBTI rights activists have blasted the law, saying it will provide legal cover for banning any of their actions, including the distribution of information leaflets or even actions against homophobia.

Under the measure, freedom of assembly and expression for LGBTI groups would be prohibited anywhere children might be present. This would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBTI people and organizations.

The publication of anything relating to LGBTI rights or providing assistance or advice – including informative leaflets as well as publications in the media and on the internet – would also be severely curtailed.

Other Russian cities like Moscow have planned legislation to ban “propaganda for homosexuality”, while Arkhangelsk and the region of Riazan have already introduced such legislation.

Although consensual same-sex activity was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, LGBTI people still face widespread discrimination and violence.

LGBTI activists’ attempts to organize Pride marches, cultural festivals and other events in major cities, including St. Petersburg, have frequently been met with official red tape and violence from anti-gay groups, among them people associating themselves with the Orthodox Church. Violent attacks against LGBTI activists often go unpunished.

“Legislation like that proposed in St. Petersburg will only further marginalize LGBTI people, and must be stopped,” said Nicola Duckworth.

“Instead of seeking to restrict freedom of expression and assembly for LGBTI people, Russian authorities should be doing more to safeguard their rights and protect them from discrimination and violence.”

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The United Russia Guide to Winning Hearts and Minds. Strategy 2: Fan the Flames of Homophobia

www.agoracosmopolitan.com
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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Petersburg TV: Homosexuality Is An “Abomination”

TV’s ‘Bridge of Freedom’ Describes Gays as ‘Abomination’
By Sergey Chernov
St. Petersburg Times
July 14, 2009

A chief editor at a local television channel called homosexuality an “abomination” in a caustic reply to an open letter written by an insulted viewer. The viewer, St. Petersburg resident Maria Yefremenkova, had earlier held a one-woman protest against what she described as a “homophobic” broadcast that “discriminated” against sexual minorities.

Valery Tatarov, the editor of 100TV’s public affairs talk show “Bridge of Freedom,” refused to apologize for the broadcast, as requested by Yefremenkova. Instead, he informed her, in an e-mail dated July 1, that he would not apologize unless a court ordered him to do so.

In closing, Tatarov expressed “the deepest disrespect for homosexuality and other abominations” and wished Yefremenkova “the best of luck in studying the law as well as civil rights and liberties.”

The program that sparked Yefremenkova’s campaign was broadcast on 100TV on May 22. [It can be viewed in full here.] The topic debated by the show’s in-studio guests was “Is homosexualism [sic] a crime against childhood?”

The Hip Priest: Kurayev

The Hip Priest: Kurayev

The phrasing of the topic was inspired by a statement made by the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox priest Andrei Kurayev, one of the church’s most visible public figures. When asked about a planned gay pride event in Moscow in May, Kurayev slammed what he called the “propaganda of homosexuality.”

During the course of the fifty-three minute program, anti-gay guests and interviewees argued several times that the aim of gay rights protests was to recruit minors into the homosexual community by making homosexuality “fashionable.” “Is homosexuality a fashion or a psychiatric disease?” one of the presenters asked a guest.

The terms gomoseksualism and gomoseksualist, seen as inappropriate by gays because they suggest that homosexuality is a disease or a form of deviancy, were used consistently throughout the entire program.

Yefremenkova found remarks made by journalists and guests, as well as pre-recorded video sequences aired during the program, insulting to sexual minorities.

“As a member of Russian society, I am deeply outraged by this instance of discrimination against sexual minorities. It’s intolerable,” Yefremenkova said by phone last week.

In a letter she wrote to 100TV’s general director and editor, Andrei Radin, after she received Tatarov’s response last week, Yefremenkova alleged that the “hosts and creators of this program violated the rights, honor and dignity of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community.”

She also wrote that the presenters “spread rumors disguised as reliable facts; [they] presented information on homosexuality in such a way as to demean this category of citizens, ignite intolerance and contribute to the rise of hatred in society.”

Yefremenkova accused the show’s hosts of “fabricating facts” and allowing the program’s guests — Igor Knyazkin (introduced as a doctor of medicine), political analyst Alexander Konfisakhor of St. Petersburg State University, and historian Yury Sokolov — to threaten and insult sexual minorities.

“Don’t write on your t-shirt that you’re a faggot, and nobody will touch you,” said Knyazkin, who also described homosexuality as a “social disease.” Konfisakhor seconded him: “In my youth, you would get punched in the face for [openly expressing homosexuality] — long, hard, and so that it hurt.”

In response to a post on the channel’s web forum that read “Gay culture is being exported from abroad. The goal is the destruction of Russia,” Sokolov said, “Strange as it may seem, this might be true.” ”That’s right,” an off-screen voice was heard to say in reply.

Moreover, guests repeatedly compared homosexuality to bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia.

Although there were two speakers on behalf of sexual minorities in the studio, the show’s general tone was hostile. When Valery Sozayev, an activist with the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out) asked his opponents and the presenters to imagine how they would react “if [their own] children turn[ed] out to be gay,” presenter Svetlana Malinina sarcastically retorted, “God forbid!”

Journalist Andrei Klyushev concluded the broadcast by remarking that a person should not speak publicly about his or her sexual orientation.

“In the U.S. army […] they have arrived at a very simple slogan — ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ That is, sexual orientation is everyone’s personal affair, but you shouldn’t speak about it publicly. I think that is a rather healthy idea,” Klyushev said.

What Klyushev did not mention, however, was that the Pentagon’s controversial ban did not extend to civilians, and that several recent surveys have shown that the vast majority of Americans are against the ban.

Last year, during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to work with military leaders and Congress on repealing the law that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

At the end of the broadcast, the results of a viewer call-in poll were shown on screen. Those who agreed that “homosexualism” was a “crime against childhood” outnumbered those who disagreed by an overwhelming margin — 7,263 to 1,298, or 85 versus 15 percent.

On Monday, the program’s web site showed that a video of the controversial broadcast had been viewed over 13,000 times since the May 22 airing. Other recent broadcasts in the series, which airs three times a week, have garnered just over a thousand online re-viewings at most.

Maria Yefremenkova

Maria Yefremenkova

Yefremenkova wrote that the facts she cited in her letter constitute “evidence of discrimination against sexual minorities by employees of 100TV” and were thus violations of Russian and international law.

On June 6, Yefremenkova held a picket near 100TV’s studios, near Petrogradskaya Naberezhnaya. She held up a placard that read, “Against discrimination toward sexual minorities in the media. 100TV is a homophobic channel.” She also distributed leaflets in which she demanded that the channel apologize to the LGBT community.

Under the Soviet legal code, male homosexual acts were criminal offenses, punishable by terms of five to eight years in prison. This law was abolished in 1993, two years after the Soviet Union collapsed, during the administration of President Boris Yeltsin. During Soviet times, the subject of homosexuality was strictly banned from print and broadcast media.

Speaking by phone this week, LGBT rights activist Sozayev talked about what he called the “lack of professionalism” of 100TV’s journalists.

“In a debate, the hosts should not take sides, whatever their personal views are, but these hosts demonstrated their homophobia in a very obvious way,” he said.

“Many thoughtful people I spoke to, people who are able to think for themselves, said the program had the opposite effect on them,” Sozayev added.

“If the editor wanted to use this program to incite homophobia, he failed. As one woman wrote in her blog, ‘For the longest time I couldn’t explain to my husband why LGBT rights have to be protected. After watching this program he understood why.”

Radin, who heads 100TV, said he had not received the letter when called on Monday and declined to comment.

 

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