Posts Tagged 'Homosexual Propaganda'

Moldova Repeals “Gay Propaganda” Ban

Repost from GayStar News

The former Eastern Bloc country of Moldova has decided to repeal its ban on the so-called propaganda of homosexuality to minors in the hopes of building greater ties with the European Union

Moldovan lawmakers have voted to repeal that country’s Russia style ban on so-called homosexual propaganda despite the country’s Orthodox Church and Communist Party joining forces against them.

Radio Free Europe reports that Orthodox Christian activists and dozens of Opposition Communist MPs tried to block the entrance of Moldova’s Palace of the Republic in Chisinau to try to stop the Moldovan Government from passing new LGBT anti-discrimination – laws but lawmakers were able to overturn the ban on gay propaganda regardless.

Overturning the ban is the first step in passing the anti-discrimination law as otherwise the Government could be found to be in breach of its own law.

The Moldovan Government repealed the ban in the hopes of being offered an EU Association Agreement at the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania next month.

The Russian aligned Orthodox Church in Moldova even threatened lawmakers with banning them from taking communion if they passed the anti-discrimination law.

Earlier this month Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of exporting homophobia to other former Soviet Union countries in an attempt to retain control over them.

Pro-gay U.S. firms face hurdles in antigay Russia

Repost from the San Francisco Chronicle

The company has a rock-solid policy of “inclusion and diversity” in the workplace and numerous LGBT employees, and it was one of the prominent Bay Area firms to sign amicus briefs in favor of overturning Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

It also has interests in Russia, including a $1 billion investment to help the country develop its own Silicon Valley. Last week, the company, Cisco Systems, opened the Cisco Experience Center at the site of Russia’s embryonic Silicon Valley outside Moscow, “marking an important milestone in Cisco’s multiyear investment in sustainable innovation within the Russian Federation,” a senior executive blogged.

But Russia has become a darker place since Cisco committed the money in 2010 – jailing perceived opponents, spitting in the face of America and escalating attacks on gay rights.

In the past year, the regime of President Vladimir Putin has banned same-sex couples from adopting children, violently broken up gay pride parades and, last month, outlawed as “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” the espousal of values Cisco and other U.S. companies operating in Russia embrace.

That is already an issue here. Demonstrations against its antigay laws have been held in several American cities, including outside the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. Boycotts of Russian vodka and the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi are being pushed, and state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is calling on California’s public pension funds to cease investing in Russian enterprises.

Even President Obama, annoyed with Putin for granting asylum to National Security Agency leader Edward Snowden, has stepped into the fray. “I’ve been very clear that when you are discriminating on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, you are violating the basic morality that I think should transcend every country,” he toldJay Leno last week.

Referring to the Sochi Games, Obama said, “I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently.”

U.S. groups speak out

But Russia can. Under the law, gay or “pro-gay” foreigners face up to 14 days in jail and expulsion from the country. Several Russian parliamentarians said they believe the law will be enforced during the Games, as it was last month against four Dutch tourists who were jailed for filming a forum organized by a local human rights group. Presumably employees of U.S. companies who are suspected of passing on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” in Russia could face the same threat.

Calls to boycott the Games have been received negatively, including by the Russian LGBT Network, which called on the international community to “speak up, not walk out.”

Some U.S. groups are speaking up. They include the Council for Global Equality in Washington, whose lawyers in Moscow wrote a memo in June concluding that the laws “will directly impact multinational companies operating in Russia who have clear and well-publicized LGBT equality policies” – such as Cisco and several other Bay Area and American companies.

“Their willingness to transfer LGBT individuals to work in Russia will be an issue given the likely concern of such companies about placing LGBT individuals in Russia and the concerns of such individuals about living in Russia,” the memo states.

“It could also give rise to concern by the companies about the manner in which they publicize their LGBT policies, as well as influencing their recruitment decisions, the application of their stated LGBT policies in Russia.”

If Russian courts’ rulings on similar laws are any precedent, appeals against the provisions will probably go nowhere. International courts could see things differently, although the memo doesn’t speculate what effect they might have. ( sfg.ly/15SD7Un).

Cisco, which has dozens of engineers and other employees in Russia – with more coming to staff the innovation center – had no comment. So it’s difficult to know how aware the company is of the issue, if it’s in contact with its lawyers, or if it is formulating a response.

“We’ve had interest from companies in our memo, but what they do with it when they kick it up the chain, we don’t have a handle on,” said Julie Dorf, senior adviser at the Council of Global Equality. “It’s hard to get a read on what they’re doing behind the scenes.”

Inconsistent approach

But, Dorf said, it’s a tough issue for corporations that have operations in countries with different views on equality than their own. “We would like corporations who are positively pro-equality in the workplace to extend their policies globally, without exception,” she said, “but it’s not a simple act. There are enormous differences, especially with host countries that don’t share the same values.

“The vast majority of multinational corporations that support full LGBT equality in the workplace in the United States are inconsistent about their application of those principles and policies abroad,” she said.

The Facts on LGBT Rights in Russia

The Facts on LGBT Rights in RussiaIn recent weeks, public attention to the ongoing crackdown on LGBT rights in the Russian Federation and its potential impact on the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February 2014 has increased significantly. President Obama addressed the issue on the Tonight Show, saying:

“I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn’t tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently. They’re athletes, they’re there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have anything to do with it.” 
– President Obama

The controversy is likely to escalate as President Obama heads to St. Petersburg, Russia in early September for a G-20 Summit and potential bilateral meetings with President Putin. This fact sheet summarizes the developments in Russia and the guidance that we have received to date from our colleagues in Russia. Read the Fact Sheet Here.

European Parliament Condemns Russia’s Federal Censorship Law

480px-Moscow_Russia_Flag_and_Hammer_and_SickleRepost from The European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights

Yesterday the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning the “anti-propaganda” law voted in Russia’s federal Duma earlier this week.

In the resolution on the rule of law in Russia they adopted yesterday, Members of the European Parliament noted that ”[Russian] federal authorities have done nothing to stop discriminatory legislation banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ from coming into effect in nine regions of Russia”.

It also condemned the adoption of such a law at the federal level.

The Parliament is “deeply concerned by the negative consequences of the adoption of a federal law on ‘homosexual propaganda’, which could increase discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals”.

The Council of Europe also condemned Russia’s new laws, which unduly restrict free speech in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Last year the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that these laws breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Russia.

Michael Cashman MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, said in the plenary that the laws were “part of a wider systematic crackdown on LGBTI organisations and civil society” in general. He added that “hate speech from Putin and others had resulted in the barbaric killing of gay men” recently.

“This is unacceptable and uncivilised. The EU must continue to systematically express its strongest opposition to laws that restrict freedom of expression”, especially in such a discriminatory way, he said.

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Also Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Not a month passes without Russia becoming less and less of a democracy. In addition to the propaganda law, the ‘Foreign Agents’ law also places undue pressure on NGOs.”

“Vladimir Putin and Dmitri Medvedev are the most dangerous same-sex couple in Europe these days; the EU and the Council of Europe need to up the pressure against Russia after these terrible laws are passed.”

Last week, the LGBT Intergroup hosted a seminar on these laws and how the EU should react to them.

Read more on Russia from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights

Pressure Builds on Ukraine to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

Washington, DC – March 13, 2013 –The Council for Global Equality applauds the 62 members of the U.S. Congress, who yesterday, called on Chairman Rybak of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, urging the country to refrain from passing pending anti-gay laws. These so-called “Homosexual Propaganda” laws clearly violate basic freedoms of assembly, speech, and press, with criminal sanctions of up to six years in prison for positive media portrayals of same-sex relationships or public gatherings for LGBT rights.

The bipartisan letter was led by Congressman Eric Swalwell of California who stated: “Ukraine in recent decades has made significant strides and commitments to human rights, but these bills threaten to create an environment that condones state-sanctioned discrimination against LGBT people. This is a clear violation of the fundamental freedoms that both of our countries respect and I urge the parliament to reject both of these bills.”

Tomorrow in Geneva, human rights defenders from the LGBT Council of Ukraine will be delivering a response to these proposed laws before the UN Human Rights Council, where they will condemn Ukraine’s blatant rejection of the UN’s call to scrap these bills. As part of the “Universal Periodic Review” of Ukraine’s human rights record, Ukrainian diplomats stated that their constitution provides sufficient protection, and that the government had no authority over members of Parliament. Olena Shevchenko, representing Ukrainian civil society, responded by noting: “Unfortunately, we need to recognize that the human rights situation of LGBTI people has worsened in Ukraine. Violence against LGBTI people has increased, and peaceful and legitimate public demonstrations against homophobic legislation have been banned and led to the arrest of LGBTI human rights defenders.”

In addition to the public sentiments of the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, members of the European Parliament have also written to their Ukrainian peers to express similar concerns and to call on them to reject the laws. “We hope this public pressure will encourage Ukrainian authorities to see the crucial need for protective legislation for LGBT citizens, as opposed to these outrageous attempts to criminalize basic freedoms of expression. As nondiscrimination laws and provisions are reviewed, sexual orientation and gender identity should be included as grounds for protection – as opposed to these laws, which purposefully exclude LGBT citizens from basic human rights protections,” said Julie Dorf, Senior Advisor at the Council for Global Equality.

Read the letter.

Related Content:  Sixty-two Members of Congress Call on the Ukrainian Parliament to Reject Anti-LGBT Legislation

LGBT Human Rights Abuse Under the New “Homosexual Propaganda” Law Continues in St. Petersburg

Repost from Coming Out St. Petersburg

May 1, 2012–17 LGBT activists of St. Petersburg were arrested for carrying rainbow flags as part of the May 1st civil rights and freedom march on Nevsky prospect, city’s main avenue.

This year’s May 1st march is a peaceful demonstration, permitted by the city administration. LGBT activists were marching as part of a larger “democratic” column, consisting of various democratic and civil society groups of St. Petersburg. 5 minutes into the march, police requested removal of rainbow flags. When activists refused, they were forcefully detained and are now facing charges of “propaganda of homosexuality” and non-compliance with the police. One activist was detained for holding a sign “homophobia is illegal.”

17 activists are still being held by the police. Among those detained are Igor Kochetkov, chairman of the Russian LGBT Network, Mikhail Belodedov of Coming Out, Sergey Kondrashov, lawyer and straight ally, and Elena Popova, director of St. Petersburg organization “Soldier’s mothers”, defending rights of draftees.

On March 30 “homosexual propaganda” law went into effect in St. Petersburg, imposing administrative fines on the so-called “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, and pedophilia” to minors. On April 7th activists were arrested for holding signs “no to silencing of hate crimes against gays and lesbians” and “our family friend is a lesbian, her family is socially equal to ours” and charged with propaganda and non-compliance with police. One activist was found guilty of non-compliance, but the propaganda charge was ignored by the court. As of today, there have been no convictions by the court under this law in St. Petersburg.

When asked, Russian authorities stated numerous times that the “propaganda law” was intended only to protect minors and not for limiting LGBT human rights activity.


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