On 16th November 2011 the deputies of the Legislative Assembly passed a bill prescribing administrative liability for public activities “promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors”. Yesterday ADC Memorial sent a letter to the Legislative Assembly warning that this law violates the rights of a significant majority of the city’s residents.
To the Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg
Address: 190107 St Petersburg, Isaakievskaya square, 6
Phone: +7 812 5703931
Fax: +7 812 5703049
The activities of the Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial are aimed at overcoming all types of discrimination in society on practical as well as legislative levels. In official statements, in reports and in recommendations, ADC Memorial has underlined many times that there is no unifying anti-discrimination law in Russia and strongly advises the development of one anti-discrimination law, and the addition of anti-discrimination statements to existing laws. In spite of such efforts, we do not see any positive changes in this sphere. A lack of complex anti-discrimination law at federal level leads to the situation of legal instability, most alarmingly, allows for the possibility of regional legislators to pass directly or indirectly discriminative regulations.
- On 10th November, the bill “On Amendments to the Law “On administrative violations in St Petersburg” was introduced to the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg. The bill prescribes administrative liability for public activities promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors. ADC Memorial wants to draw the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg’s attention to the fact that, when developing the bill, existing constitutional and international norms on human rights and bans on discrimination were not taken into account.
The passing of this bill violates the bans on discrimination and the freedom of opinion and expression recognised in the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as in the international documents signed by Russia; for example articles 8, 10 and 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (rights to private and family life, freedom of opinion and expression, and a ban on discrimination). The European Court for Human Rights considers sexual orientation one of the banned grounds for discrimination, and if the bill is passed, a legal base for complaints against Russia will be established.
The UN General Assembly, the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (in regard to discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity), the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe (recommendation “On freedom of assembly and opinion and expression for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders”), the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as well as statements of the Commissioner on Human Rights of the Council of Europe adopted many recommendations for the state members.
As the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe says in its recommendation “On means of fighting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (March 31, 2010), states must avoid discriminative formulations in its laws. The formulation of liability for “public activities promoting homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism” proposed in the bill is discriminative on the basis of sexual orientation, and, moreover does not meet the principle of legal certainty and can be misinterpreted which is inadmissible for a law imposing liability.
ADC Memorial reminds that an attempt to introduce analogue ban in the Criminal code of the Russian Federation was declined as non-constitutional. The Government commented that “as homosexuality is not a criminal activity, homosexual propagandacannot be considered a dangerous for society intrusion on an object protected by law”. It is also right for administrative liability: as homosexuality cannot be a basis for administrative liability, homosexual propaganda cannot be considered an administrative violation either. It would violate the logic of the law and exceptional powers of the federation in regulating human and citizen’s rights.
It should be pointed out that introducing such a bill, obviously used by subjects of legislative initiative for political and other purposes, does not create and strengthen the authority of legislative power in St Petersburg, and its adoption would lead to mass violations of human rights in the territory of St Petersburg;
In consideration of these violations of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and international norms, numerous contradictions and shortcomings of the bill,
ADC Memorial calls upon the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg to vote down the bill as a contradiction of Russian and international legal norms.