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Washington Moves Over St. Petersburg Proposed ‘Gay Propaganda’ Bill
 Duma postpones second reading to end of month | UK still silent | Coming
Out group pleads for continuing international support

 
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WASHINGTON, November 23, 2011    Despite having more ‘weighty’ matters of foreign policy on its agenda, the State Department took less than 24 hours to react to a question on the proposed legislation in St. Petersburg that would outlaw “gay propaganda”, as the Russians call it.

At yesterday’s press briefing, Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland was asked by a reporter [from official transcript]:

Just one quick one on Russia.  I don’t know whether you have anything on this, but there’s apparently a bill that’s supported by Putin’s party which would – it’s in two major Russian cities – that would criminalise almost all activity that is related to LGBT equality, equating any discussion of that issue with paedophilia. Have you heard about this?  Is this anything that the State Department would be interested in taking up?”

Ms. Nuland replied: “I have not heard about that one, Jill.  I’ll certainly ask our Embassy in Moscow whether they have been active on this issue.  I think you know the principled stand that the United States Government takes on this issue and that the Secretary of State in particular takes on this issue, which is that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.  And so I don’t think the Russian Government could have any question about where we would stand on such an issue. But let me take it and see whether we’ve been active at all.”

Today, the State Department issued a statement saying that it was “deeply concerned” about the proposed legislation.

“We are deeply concerned by proposed local legislation in Russia that would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and indeed all Russians,” the statement says.

“We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens.  The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups.”

Despite several calls by UK Gay News, the British Foreign Office in London has yet to issue any statement.

Meanwhile, in St. Petersburg, the bill was due to have its ‘second reading’.  But this was postponed until November 30 as politicians in the regional Duma (parliament) could not, official sources said, agree to acceptable definitions.

However, gay activists in the city are suggesting that international pressure might well be the reason for the postponement.

“This shows our campaign of public actions, demonstrations, direct appeals to the lawmakers and politicians, and support by you, is working,” the Coming Out LGBT group in St. Petersburg said today in a message to its international supporters.

“This victory is a very small step.  The threat to the LGBT community and human rights remains very real and there is still a very long way to go.  This delay by lawmakers wins us time to continue to pressure our government.

“We ask you to continue your support.”

■ An online petition to world leaders protesting the St. Petersburg bill attracted more that 180,000 signatures since Monday.

SEE ALSO

Why It Is Wrong in Even Considering Anti Gay Legislation in St Petersburg.  UK Gay News Commentary.  Russia, in allowing ‘anti-gay’ legislation to be introduced in two regions – Ryazan in 2006 and Arkhangelsk last month, has totally flouted conventions of the 47-nation Council of Europe which it voluntarily joined as it came out of the Soviet era.  And when the Duma in St. Petersburg finally passes a similar law in the coming weeks, and this is virtually inevitable, there will be three regions of the country that fall foul of Strasbourg.  (UK Gay News, November 22, 2011)

Moscow Authorities Now Propose Anti Gay Bill.  The authorities in Moscow are now proposing to introduce a Bill that will outlaw the “promotion of homosexuality”, it emerged this afternoon. (UK Gay News, November 17, 2011)

Gay and Lesbian Rights: St. Petersburg About to Enter ‘Hall of Shame’.  Commentary by Nikolai Alekseev.  After Ryazan in 2006 and Arkhangelsk, this autumn the regional parliament of St. Petersburg is considering a bill which will outlaw ‘the promotion of homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgenderism to minors’.  St. Petersburg is about to enter the hall of shame of the Russian regions which limit a fundamental human right of an individual, the right to freedom of expression. (UK Gay News, November 16, 2011)

 

 

 

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Posted: 23 November 2011 at 20:00 (UK time)

   
             
       

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