Russia: Kostroma Region to implement a ban on propaganda of homosexuality
Law is being discussed in Regional Parliament
Meeting of the Kostroma Duma Committee
Kostroma, a region located 300 km north east of Moscow, may become the third Russian region to outlaw so called propaganda of homosexuality to minors.
Similar laws were formally implemented at the regional level, in 2006 in Ryazan and earlier this year in Arkhangelsk. Discussions also took place in the last weeks, in Moscow, and also in St. Petersburg where it already passed the first reading and was the starting point of an outrage in the international community.
In Kostroma, members of the local Parliament – Kostroma Regional Duma – already planned to formalize the ban of homosexual propaganda by adding two articles to the existing laws "On Guarantees of the Rights of the Child" and “Administrative Code”.
The amendments proposed by the the Committee on Labor, Social Policy and Health are to outlaw any action aimed to promote pedophilia, homosexuality (sodomy and lesbianism), bisexuality, transsexuality to minors. The parliament is expected to consider the amendments before year end.
The authors of the bills noted that "such legislation is already operating successfully in some regions of the country." According to MPs, a ban would protect the morals of the family, to preserve the physical, mental and spiritual health of young people.
Even though such laws are an abvious restriction of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, the Constitutional Court said the opposite in its decision delivered in January 2010 against activists of GayRussia who were arrested and charged for propaganda of homosexuality in Ryazan.
Freedom of expression and the repeal of these anti-gay laws have been one of GayRussia’s main campaigns since 2009.
“We started challenging anti gay laws in Ryazan in 2009 and this month in Arkhangelsk right after it came into force. We will do it everywhere such laws come into force” said Nikolai Baev, GayRussia’s acting Leader.
“We have no hope in the fairness of the legal system in Russia, such laws can only be invalidated with a decision of the European Court and this is why we brought a case before this Court, Russian courts are only an obligatory but hopeless step” added Nikolai Alekseev, GayRussia’s Founder.
In July 2012 the UN Human Rights Committee will consider the complaint of Irina Fedotova against Russia on the legality of the ban of homosexual propaganda in Ryazan where Mrs. Fedotova was arrested in 2009.
A similar case of Nikolai Baev against Russia is awaiting consideration by the European Court of Human Rights. GayRussia invited every organization and inidvidual to ask the European Court of Human Rights to start considering this case in order to create a legally binding precedent which would have the effect to outlaw the anti gay laws in Russia.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin signed a decree which repealed the law forbidding male homosexuality. Starting from 2006, Russian gay rights activists started to celebrate this date by attempting to organize an annual gay rights march known as Moscow Gay Pride. The first edition was banned and marred with violence. It was reffered as the first Russian Stonewall.
This day was founded in 2004 by French Academic Louis-Georges Tin to mark the anniversary of the declassification of homosexuality from the list of disease by the World Health Organization. Russian LGBT have been celebrating this day every year since 2005 under the leadership of Project GayRussia which was itself founded on May 17, 2005. GayRussia is Russia's coordinator of IDAHO.
Following Moscow in May 2009, Minsk was the second capital to host the Slavic Gay Pride. The March was banned and marred with violence but it did not prevent two dozens of Pride organizers from Moscow, Minsk and St. Petersburg to march over 300 meters waiving a 10meters long rainbow flag. 11 participants including some of the organizers were brutally arrested by police forces.
2009 marked the launch of GayRussia's campaign for the opening of same-sex union of gays and lesbians in Russia. While the Constitutional Court already expressd the opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman, activists believe that the lack of partnership or marriage for gay couples is a strong point to impose legislative changes via a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.
The five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the Court rejected the appeal of the Russian Federation in the Moscow Pride Ban case. The decision given on October 21 is final. By repeatedly banning Gay Pride Marches as well as other LGBT themed public action, Russia breached the European Convention on Human Rights.