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Russian anti-LGBT laws
Russia has passed new anti-LGBT laws. GLEN are working with other NGOs in Europe and Russia to help coordinate the strongest possible reponse to this attack on human rights of LGBT people.
In June 2013 the Russian parliament adopted a federal law banning the "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships". Although the bill does not define ‘non-traditional', it is widely understood to mean lesbian, gay and bisexual relationships.
The law imposes fines or jail time to citizens who disseminate information that may cause a "distorted understanding" that LGBT and heterosexual relationships are "socially equivalent." The fines are significantly higher if such information is distributed through the media or Internet. Foreigners are also liable to fines, administrative arrest of up to 15 days and deportation. Any organisation breaking the law faces varying penalties of up to one million roubles (approximately £20,000) and a shutdown of their activity for 90 days.
These laws aim to force LGBT people into lives of secrecy. They will especially have a devastating impact on young LGBT people who will be left unable to be open about themselves and unable to access relevant services, with all the potential physical and mental health issues which may arise from this. In addition, it sends a green light to extremists that LGBT people are legitimate targets. This is reflected in the rising violence against LGBT people in recent times in Russia.
These new laws represent a serious attack on human rights in Europe. They send out the clear message from the Russian government and parliament that intolerance of others is acceptable and that human rights are not inviolable but rather are political notions which can be rowed back when it is politically advantageous to do so.
Perhaps the most dangerous presumption that all of us can make is that progress is inevitable and human rights are irreversible. Human rights can only be preserved by perpetual vigilance by those who cherish them. This is a pivotal moment in European human rights. These Russian laws represent one of the most significant attacks on human rights in Europe in living memory.
What is GLEN doing?
GLEN are working with ILGA-Europe, the European umbrella group for LGBT organisations, and through them working with our fellow Russian LGBT organisations to develop the best strategies to protect the human rights of LGBT people in Russia. GLEN are active members of ILGA-Europe and are currently on the board of the organisation.
GLEN are also in communications with the Irish department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to ensure that the most up to date information is at the disposal of the Irish government. GLEN believe the the Irish government and the European Union should take the strongest possible stance on this blatant attack on people's human rights.
To read more on the work of ILGA-Europe on thhe Russian attack on human rights click here
What can people do as individuals?
- Let the LGBT communities in Russia know you are standing in solidarity. Use internet and social media to let them know that they are not alone. Ireland is an amazing example of a country which has come a long way in quite a short period of time. The Irish story is a profound message of hope and of what is possible, even at times when it appears progress is impossible.
- Be a political/ethical consumer. Buy products from companies that have come out in supprt of LGBT equality, regardless of what country they are made in
- If you plan to go to the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 or to travel to Russia then make sure you check with the irish department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for safety updates
- Finally and most importantly, be committed for the long haul. The sad truth is that these laws will probably not be rescinded in the short term. This is the beginning of a long campaign to change laws, hearts and minds.