Russia: we won’t be silenced

Russian Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg, one of Russia’s biggest cities, passes a law condemning “gay propaganda”.

Conservative lawmakers in Saint Petersburg, second largest city in Russia overwhelmingly passed a bill prohibiting the so-called “gay propaganda”. The bill was first introduced by Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

Polina Savchenko, General Manager of ‘Coming Out, Russia’, an LGBT organization, described the law as “absurd, both in terms of legal logic, and in terms of plain common sense.”

Amnesty International urged the Legislative Assembly not to enact such a homophobic bill, saying it would threaten freedom of expression and fuel discrimination against the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.

All Out campaigners describe the new law as notorious and it is meant to silence any reading, writing, speech or debate on anything “gay.”

Local LGBTI rights activists have blasted the law, saying it will provide legal cover for banning their actions, including the distribution of information leaflets or even actions against homophobia.

“So what is the real goal?” askes Polina. “It is clear that adoption of this law would impose significant limitations on the activities of LGBT organizations. Organizers of public events cannot restrict access of minors to any open area; people under 18 can be there just by chance. Consequently, it makes any public campaigns aimed at reducing xenophobia and hate crime prevention impossible.”

“In the name of ‘public interest,’ members of the Legislative Assembly decided to ignore the Federal law, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, Council of Europe Recommendations and other decrees by international organizations, of which Russia is a member. However, no public discussions were held.” Adds Polina to LGBTQ Nation.

We shall remind here that same sex sexual activity is legal in Russia since 1993; however authorities have done nothing to enact legislation to address discrimination, harassment and bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Public opinion about LGBT topics and people tends to be negative: according to 2005 poll, 43.5% of Russians support re-criminalization of homosexual acts between consensual adults; at the same time, 42.8% of Russians support a legal ban on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

All Out campaigners point out that “the fight is far from over”.

“The bill won’t become law until it’s signed by the Governor. St. Petersburg is one of Russia’s number one tourist destinations. That’s why an international storm of bad publicity will force the Governor to think twice about the cost of signing this bill”. Add the campaigners.

An online petition was created in this regard, 84.361 have signed the bill so far. The goal is to reach 100.000 signatures by next Wednesday.

A powerful and viral video was equally created by marking 197.497 views at the time of writing these lines. The video puts the finger creatively on the touristic aspect of the city.

“Russian leaders recently announced that they want to invest $11 billion dollars to build their international reputation and attract tourists from around the world. St. Petersburg, Russia’s cosmopolitan “window to the west” is key to that strategy”.

“But they can’t have it both ways – a thriving tourist economy can’t coexist with a new law that will muzzle artists, writers, musicians and regular citizens who live in – or visit – the city”. Add the campaigners.

Check the video out:

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