On 13 December 2012 the State Duma of the Russian Federation adopted in the first reading a bill against ‘propaganda of homosexuality to minors’. On 18 December, on the eve of planned hearing of the bill in the second reading, ADC ‘Memorial’ sent a statement to the State Duma about inadmissibility of adoption of discriminatory bill which limits rights of the whole groups of population and doesn’t take into account constitutional and international norms in human rights legislation and prohibition of discrimination.
Similar laws have already been adopted in several regions of Russia including Saint-Petersburg and practical application of them led to human rights violations. Thus, application of anti-gay law in Ryazanskaya region was appealed to UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Committee). 31 October 2012 UNHRC passed judgment on the case and recognized that Russia violated article 19 (right to freedom of opinion and expression) and article 26 (prohibition of discrimination) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ADC ‘Memorial’ appealed to deputies not to pass apparently discriminatory law.
19 December the bill wasn’t considered, but it can happen soon.
Text of the letter:
To State Duma of the Russian Federation
103265, Moscow, OkhotnyRyadst., 1
Statement by Anti-discrimination centre ‘Memorial’ in connection with consideration of a bill ‘On the introduction of changes to Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation (on fixing administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality to minors)’ in the second reading in the State Duma of the Russian Federation on 19 December 2012.
Activity of anti-discrimination centre ‘Memorial’ (ADC ‘Memorial’) is aimed at overcoming all kinds and forms of discrimination. ADC ‘Memorial’ regularly suggests to produce a common anti-discrimination law and to add anti-discriminatory regulations into current normative acts. A special concern causes the fact that now State Duma is going to consider obviously discriminatory bill on fixing administrativeresponsibility for propaganda of homosexuality to minors. We believe that this bill contradicts constitutional guarantees of prohibition of discrimination, principles and norms of international legislation.
ADC ‘Memorial’ would like to ask deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation to pay careful attention to the fact that the bill ‘On the introduction of changes to Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation (on fixing administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality to minors)’ which was adopted in the first reading obviously doesn’t take into consideration current constitutional and international norms in human rights and prohibition of discrimination sphere as well as negative practice of application of analogous laws at regional level, particularly, in Saint-Petersburg.
Thus, application of anti-gay law in Ryazanskaya region was appealed to UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Committee). 31 October 2012 UNHRC passed judgment on the case and recognized that Russia violated article 19 (right to freedom of opinion and expression) and article 26 (prohibition of discrimination) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Adoption of this bill contradicts prohibition of discrimination and principle of freedom of expression mentioned in the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as international norms recognized by the Russian Federation, particularly, articles 8, 10 and 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (right to respect for private and family life, right to freedom of expression and protection of discrimination). At the international level similar recommendations for member states were adopted by United Nations General Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (concerning sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (recommendation ‘On freedom of assembly and expression for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders’), Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe mentions in the recommendation ‘On measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity’ (31 March 2010) that member states must avoid discriminatory statements in legislation.
ADC ‘Memorial’ reminds that similar bills on punishment for homosexual propaganda were already introduced to the State Duma (15 September 2003, 20 May 2004, 2 May 2006, 8 May 2009) and in all four cases the State Duma rejected the bill mentioning the contradiction to the Constitution of the Russian Federation. The effort to introduce analogous prohibition into the Crime Code of the Russian Federation was rejected as anti-constitutional one. In official reply of the Government it was mentioned that ‘as homosexuality itself is not recognized as a penal act, propaganda of it cannot be considered as socially-dangerous infringement to the object of penal prohibition protection’. The same statement is relevant to administrative responsibility: as homosexuality itself cannot be the ground for administrative responsibility then propaganda of it cannot be considered as administrative offence against law, otherwise it breaks legislative logic.
As the authors of the bill say, its aim is to protect values of ‘family, motherhood and childhood in their traditional,handed down from ancestors, understanding’. It’s obvious that in a constitutional state which recognises the principle of priority of human rights and freedoms, protection of any ‘traditional values’ and priority of current state policy can’t be the ground for discrimination and restriction of rights of the whole group of people. Values of equality, dignity and individual freedom, right to self-determination, equality irrespective of sexual orientation in contemporary legal system are not less important than values of ‘family, motherhood and childhood’. In our deep opinion violation of human rights, derogation and unreasonable human rights restriction of vulnerable groups can never lead to any positive social results; that’s why adoption of the bill in question will be a thoughtless and arbitrary decision, irrelevant to concerns and status of legislative power.
Taking into account all information above and considering introduction of discriminatory statements into Russian legislation inadmissible, ADC ‘Memorial’ appeals the deputies of State Duma to reject suggested bill as discriminatory one which is irrelevant to international standards of human rights.
Director of ADC ‘Memorial’ Abramenko O.A.