St Petersburg/Paris - The Russian Duma has, once again, rescheduled the first reading of the notorious federal draft law on so-called 'homosexual propaganda', a law designed to ban saying or writing anything positive about LGBT people. Without further changes to the schedule, the first vote will occur on Friday, January 25.
This draft law is one of the most blatant of the attacks on civil rights for Russian citizens in recent months. The crackdown has extended across all forms of civil liberties, including freedom of speech and expression.
Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, recently deemed the draft law as irrelevant, stating in response to a question on the 'propaganda' ban that "Not every moral issue, behavioral habit or communication issue between people should be regulated. This is why not all relationships between people are subject to legal interpretation".
"Personal freedom of all kinds are under a grueling attack in Russia", said Andre Banks, Executive Director and Cofounder of All Out. "Draft law 6.13.1 is a clear case of using a minority as the smokescreen for a bigger agenda of silencing dissent. Should Russian parliamentarians pass this law, we can expect to see an even greater rise in attacks against people who have committed no crime other than being true to themselves."
"We are hesitant to recognise the delay as a good sign. The parliamentarians have not yet formally expressed their opinions on the draft law, we are not putting our campaign Against Article 6.13.1 on hold.", says Anastasia Smirnova, spokesperson of the Russian LGBT Network. "We hope that legislators will consider the experience of 9 similar regional laws in Russia, which clearly show that these laws are arbitrarily applied to prevent the activities of human rights defenders who focus on LGBT issues, as well as to justify inaction on the part of the authorities in situations when LGBT people and their allies are most at risk".
The Russian LGBT Network, who are conducting national monitoring on crimes against LGBT people, has tracked an increase in violence against people who are, or are perceived as being, LGBT. In 2012 alone, 43 attacks were recorded with four of these resulting in murder. Not one of these attacks has been prosecuted as a hate crime.
All Out, with Russian partner organizations, launched it's first campaign against the St. Petersburg 'gay gag rule' in November, 2011. Since that time petitions against the St. Petersburg law and the proposed federal draft law have collected over 532,120 signatures, videos have accrued over 592,420 views, and members have generated over 3,400 calls to Russian embassies around the world. While, around the world, flash mobs of All Out members took place in 11 different cities outside the Russian embassies. The immense reach of All Out's social media networks, through use of a viral video, helped change the debate in Russia about the draft law.
About All Out:
All Out is bringing people together in every corner of the planet and of every identity - lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender and all that's between and beyond - to build a world in which everyone can live freely and be embraced for who they are.