MEPs speak out against homophobic and transphobic censorship laws in Russia

The Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg is about to adopt a new law banning the “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” to minors, including in public. Members of the European Parliament have repeated their opposition to censorship.

Last week, the regional parliament in St Petersburg adopted a bill banning public discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in its second reading. The third and final reading is expected to consist of technical discussions only.

Examined since November 2011, the bill echoes similar legislation in Lithuania (which the European Parliament condemned with two resolutions in September 2009 and January 2011), and developing legislation in Ukraine. Conservative lawmakers argue that banning such “propaganda” will prevent children from becoming lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Yesterday Michael Cashman, Member of the European Parliament and Co-president of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, made a short speech in plenary criticising the laws:

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves. Such laws are simply unacceptable; if Russia isn’t serious about respecting the European Convention on Human Rights, it should simply call the bluff and leave the Council of Europe altogether. And more than statements, these grave human rights abuses must have consequences for the EU-Russia relationship!”

The Russian states of Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Kostroma already adopted similar regional laws. The European Parliament will adopt a resolution on the political situation in Russia on Thursday 16 February.

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