Feb 092012

The anti-gay draft law, prohibiting the so-called propaganda of “sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” as well as pedophilia to minors, passed in the second reading today. 5 activists protesting in front of city parliament were arrested and are still being detained.

St. Petersburg, the heart of grassroots LGBT movement, is home of several strong LGBT organizations, including LGBT organization Coming Out, the Russian LGBT Network, and Side by Side LGBT film festival. Similar laws were already implemented in 2006 in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk in September 2011 and in December of 2011 in Kostroma region. If passed in St. Petersburg, this measure could next be introduced in State Duma, the federal parliament.

If this law is passed, Russian LGBT will live in fear of punishment just for being open about sexual orientation in their social environment. It paves the way to legalized discrimination, justifies violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Moreover, under the pretense of protecting minors, this law in fact will lead to further isolation and greater number of suicides by homosexual adolescents in a country that is already leading in the numbers of teenage suicides.

Besides laying the ground for legalized harassment and violations of human rights of LGBT, Russia is blatantly ignoring its federal law, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, the Council of Europe Recommendations and other decrees, as well as opinions of numerous Russian and international experts – lawyers, psychiatrists, sociologists – who point out the complete lack of scientific evidence or sociological data behind its assumptions.

LGBT activists of St. Petersburg are not losing hope and are continuing to fight for their rights and dignity. Ahead are the third, and final, reading, after which the bill has to be signed into law by St. Petersburg governor, Mr. Poltavchenko. LGBT activists, their friends and colleagues, members of Russian and international human rights community and civil society, are continuing to campaign and raise the issue with Mr. Poltavchenko and Russian politicians on the federal level. Thousands of people around the world are asking their foreign officials to speak out (http://allout.org/russia_call). More street protests in Russian and around the world are planned.

We thank you for your continued support in this battle.