European plea to Russia: Anti-gay law would harm ‘core values’

Hakon Haugli (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Hakon Haugli (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

A proposed Russian law that could ban any public displays or discussions of homosexuality where minors might be present “is an attempt to curtail fundamental freedoms, on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” says the specialist on LGBT rights for the  Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).

“I call on Russian parliamentarians to seize the opportunity to stand up for the core values of the Council of Europe: human rights, democracy and the rule of law – for all,” said Håkon Haugli, PACE’s general rapporteur on the rights of LGBT people.

Action on the so-called “homosexual propaganda” bill is scheduled for tomorrow in the Russian parliament, or Duma.

Haugli also spoke out today against anti-gay violence that broke out against protesters who oppose the bill.

“I was outraged to learn that a peaceful, authorized demonstration in support of freedom of expression and against a bill to prohibit so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ was violently disrupted in the city of Voronezh in southwest Russia,” he said.

“Human rights defenders had organized a protest against the draft bill but a violent crowd physically attacked them, preventing the demonstration from taking place,”  Haugli said. “The next day, in Moscow, a small group of LGBT human rights defenders staging a protest against the draft bill in front of the Duma were also attacked”.

“These and other aggressions are becoming increasingly common in a number of Council of Europe member states, often the same in which some politicians indulge in rhetoric against LGBT people and other minority groups. There is a link between verbal and physical violence. This is why politicians have a particular responsibility not only to refrain from inflammatory discourse but also to promote respect and a human rights culture, with their own words and actions. I call on all members of the Parliamentary Assembly and national parliaments across Europe to speak out against violence and hate speech.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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