2012-03-12 17:14:00

St. Petersburg "anti-gay" law is discriminatory - rights activists

Moscow, March 12, Interfax - Human rights activists find that the law banning so-called homosexual propaganda signed by the governor of St. Petersburg violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to earlier reports, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko signed a law banning "homosexual propaganda" among minors.

"We, human rights activists and civil activists, are expressing extreme concerns about the adoption of some discriminatory legislative acts in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, and Kostroma Regions and now in St. Petersburg," the human rights activists said in a statement received by Interfax on Monday.

The statement was signed by the Moscow Helsinki Group, the Young People's Human Rights Movement, and the Russian Gay Lesbian League.

The human rights activists said the St. Petersburg governor has signed a law banning homosexual propaganda despite criticism from Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin, who characterized such laws as violating human rights.

The civil activists said the law has been criticized the legal department of the St. Petersburg legislative Assembly and a number of prominent experts in the sphere of psychology, sociology, and law.

"The laws banning 'homosexual propaganda' illegally restrict citizens' right to freedom of assembly and association and their right to search for and disseminate information. These laws are based on prejudice and demagogy speculating on the interests of children's protection," the statement says.

"While opposing the sexual exploitation of minors and violence against them, we contend that such laws fan social feud by causing an increase in xenophobia and violence in society and may also increase the number of suicides among teenagers," the human rights activists said.

"We are concerned about the rapid increase in fascist tendencies in Russian society. Such legislative initiatives only fuel them. We call on Russian society to pay attention to the adoption of this law in St. Petersburg because it could be followed by restrictions of the rights of other minorities, including religious and ethnic. Those who now applaud the 'triumph of traditional values' may soon find that they have been banned as well," the statement says.

"We have no doubt that these laws will be recognized as violating the international obligations of the Russian Federation in the sphere of human rights, in particular, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. No doubt that they will negatively impact the international image of the Russian Federation," the statement says.