Live: European Parliament debates homophobia and xenophobia in Russia

Tomorrow morning the European Parliament will debate the increase in homophobia and xenophobia in Russia. Members of the European Parliament will discuss what the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs did so far.

Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EUThe debate will be streamed live on Thursday 10 October 2013, at 9.30am Strasbourg time.

The legal and social situation has sharply deteriorated for non-governmental organisations defending human rights in Russia, particularly for NGOs working for the rights of ethnic minorities, migrants, and LGBT people.

Several laws recently came into force, including the federal law prohibiting the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors’. Other laws, notably the Foreign Agents law passed in 2012, also obstruct and discredit the work of numerous NGOs.

There is ample evidence of unfair trials in which organisations, like the Side-by-Side LGBT Film Festival, were fined and forced to shut down. 9 organisations are under legal charges, 18 received official orders to ‘eliminate violations’ by registering as ‘foreign agents’, and 53 organisations received ‘warnings’ not to violate the law.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said: “Behind the smokescreen of ‘traditional values’, Russian authorities turn increasingly authoritarian, limiting freedom of expression and violating human rights—not only against LGBT people, but against all minorities.”

“In this worrying context, we’ll ask the Commission and the EEAS what they’ve done to stand straight up for human rights.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “The recent decree by president Putin banning demonstrations and rallies for two and a half months in Sochi around the 2014 Winter Olympics should be a wake-up call to the International Olympic Committee.”

“The IOC has also banned all expressions of support, including rainbow nail polish. Clearly, the Committee has chosen Russia’s side by shielding them from criticism. I call upon the new IOC President Thomas Bach to take appropriate measures and fiercely condemn these laws.”

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