2013-08-05 10:01:00

Foreign Ministry rights ombudsman insists on Russia's right to protect children from gay propaganda

Moscow, August 5, Interfax - Russian Foreign Ministry Human Rights Commissioner Konstantin Dolgov expressed perplexity over actions in some Western countries against the Russian law banning propaganda of homosexuality among minors.

"Insinuations by Swedish media and actions obviously orchestrated in some Western countries against alleged infringement of the LGBT's rights in Russia cause perplexity," Dolgov said on Twitter.

"There is no definition of 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' in universal international treaties," Dolgov said. "In addition, we recommend not inventing Russia's international obligations where there are none. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is aimed at this in particular," he said.

"The laws adopted in Russia, which have alarmed the so-called freedom fighters so much, are intended exclusively to protect children from harmful information imposed on them," he said.

Vitaly Milonov, the chairman of the St. Petersburg parliament's legislation committee and author of the city's 'anti-gay propaganda' ban, insisted in an interview with Interfax on July 28 that the law would fully apply to foreign competitors and spectators at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

"I have not heard the Russian government's comments, but I know that it [the government] acts in accordance with Russian laws. And if this law was adopted by the Federal Assembly and was signed by the president, the government has no right to abrogate it. It is simply not authorized to do so," Milonov said in commenting on suggestions by some officials that the law would not be applied to the foreign visitors during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

"I believe every normal athlete and fan comes to Olympic Games to support their national team and see beautiful sport rather than violate the laws of the host country," he said.

The U.S. Department of State earlier called on the Russian authorities to honor the rights of all participants and guests of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, including members of sexual minorities.

"We place great importance on the protection of human rights for all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons, and of course, for anyone attending or participating in the Olympics," Department of State Spokesperson Marie Harf said at a press briefing on August 1.

Asked whether the Department of State is concerned about the fact that the Russian anti-gay propaganda law might jeopardize security of some U.S. athletes or spectators at the Olympics in Sochi, Harf said, "We are calling on Russia to uphold its international commitments regarding freedom of assembly and association and freedom of expression now and in the future, also calling them, of course, to protect the human rights of all people attending or participating in the Olympic Games."

Asked whether the Department of State is discussing the issue with Russia, Harf said she did not "have any details on diplomatic discussions on the issue at this point," although "this is something we feel strongly about, and we can talk about more leading up to the games."

The same day, several half-naked women unlawfully entered the territory of the Russian Embassy in Stockholm in defense of sexual minorities' rights in Russia.

"An hour prior to a demonstration in support for sexual minorities in Russia, which was planned beforehand and cleared with the Swedish authorities, two individuals suddenly appeared at the main gate of the embassy, undressed from the waist up, unfolded a rainbow-colored flag and started to chant slogans. Minutes after that, two half-naked women carrying a small poster climbed over the fence on the other side of the embassy and staged a noisy protest on the embassy grounds for about ten minutes, also yelling some slogans," Russian embassy spokesman Alexander Pashedko told Interfax.

Police were called for immediately, and the activists were detained, he said.