The State Duma (lower house of parliament) of the Russian Federation passed a bill criminalizing the “propaganda of non traditional sexual relations to minors” upon its second and third reading on 11 June.
Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement in Berlin today (12 June):
I am most gravely concerned by the law against “homosexual propaganda” in Russia. Russia is criminalizing homosexuality as a “non traditional sexual relationship”. People who live openly as gays and lesbians risk fines and even imprisonment. The law will make it practically impossible to publish reports casting homosexuality in a positive light. This further pushes homosexuals to the margins of society and imposes additional restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression.
I call on the second chamber of parliament and on President Putin to stop the bill. The law would violate Russia’s international obligations to protect its citizens from discrimination, obligations deriving for example from the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Government must ensure that everyone in Russia may live without fear of persecution and discrimination. The dignity of every individual must be protected.
It is the duty of the Government to counter the homophobic attitudes sometimes found in Russian society. The intentional discrimination and stigmatization of gays and lesbians has no place in a modern society.
Following the vote in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, the bill still needs to be approved by the Council of the Federation (upper house) and signed by the President of the Russian Federation.
The German Government has already told the Russian side on a number of occasions that it expects the rights of sexual minorities in the Russian Federation to be protected. Back in March 2012, in connection with regional legislation passed in St. Petersburg, the German Government clearly stated that such laws – be they at regional or national level – violated the principles that Russia had pledged to uphold in its own constitution and by joining the Council of Europe.