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Russia Defends Anti-Gay-Propaganda Law in Strasbourg

Controversial laws banning “homosexual propaganda” in several Russian regions comply with the country’s international obligations, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s human rights ombudsman said in Strasbourg, The Moscow News reports.

Any sort of discrimination is illegal in Russia, Konstantin Dolgov said at a gay rights conference organized by the Council of Europe this week, and the law is to secure extra protection for minors in accordance with Russian legislation.

At the same time, sexual minorities don’t need any additional support on the legislative level, as their rights and freedoms are secured by general anti-discrimination acts, he added, a statement published on the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s website read.

Facing Criticism

Several Russian regions, including the city of St. Petersburg, recently adopted regional laws, which made propaganda of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism for minors an administrative offence. This enactment also applies the same penalties for promoting pedophilia among the under aged.

The controversial legislative initiative caused a stir among Russian human rights activists protecting the rights of sexual minorities and local gay communities.

At the Strasbourg-based conference Dolgov had to respond to critical evaluation of the law, voiced by some of the other participants, according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s statement published yesterday.

Created to Intimidate People

“This law has been created to intimidate people,” Igor Kochetkov, chair of the Russian LGBT network, told The Moscow News in an interview last week. “Several clubs have refused to rent us premises for our events, which were not aimed at attracting children, and local media have stopped covering our activities because they are afraid,” he added.

Pop singer Madonna who is coming to perform in Moscow and St. Petersburg this summer pledged to speak out against this “ridiculous atrocity,” she wrote on her official Facebook page.

The St. Petersburg authorities reacted to that immediately by warning the pop star and her concert organizers of the fines that they would face.

Under the new law individuals will have to pay up to 5,000 RUB (about $170 USD), while maximum fines for organizations are set at 500,000 RUB (about $17,032 USD).

Main photo: Gay Parade supporters in Moscow, May 2011. (Andrei Stenin/RIA Novosti)