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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 23 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 34
Repeal 'Gay propaganda' law, UN tells Russia
Section One
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Repeal 'Gay propaganda' law, UN tells Russia

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The United Nations human rights office rejects Russia's so-called 'Gay propaganda' law and is calling on the Russian government to repeal it, a U.N. spokesperson said August 19.

Human rights advisor Claude Cahn of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said the anti-Gay laws are 'inherently discriminatory in both intent and effect,' in a speech in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

'Such measures form the basis for standing and regular harassment, and even arbitrary detention, and help create a climate of fear for anyone working on advancing the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people,' Cahn said.

The U.N.'s message was not aimed solely at Russia, however. The Ukraine, a former republic of the now-defunct Soviet Union, is considering an almost identical proposal, and neighboring Moldova, another former Soviet republic, has similar laws on the books.

SEX EDUCATION URGED
The full statement from the OHCHR advocates 'comprehensive, non-discriminatory sexuality education' to help tackle homophobia and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS.

As members of the U.N., Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova are bound by international law to observe basic human rights protections contained in the U.N. Charter and resolutions.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay of South Africa has previously urged governments to treat homophobia and transphobia in the same way as they would deal with sexism and racism.

'Each and every one of us is entitled to the same rights, to the same respect and ethical treatment, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity,' she said.

HARMFUL TO MINORS
Jasmine O'Connor of the British nonprofit group Stonewall told Gay Star News that the Russian law will harm children rather than protect them.

'Rather than protecting the health and moral well-being of minors, experience shows that such measures reinforce stigma and prejudice, leading to more discrimination, more abuse, and more violence, contrary to the interests and rights of the children and young people concerned,' she said.

Russia decriminalized Gay sex in 1993, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and homosexuality was removed from the Russian list of mental illnesses in 1997. Transgender Russians have been able to change gender identifiers on legal documents since 1997.

However there are no laws protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination, and Russian police have been notoriously slow in responding to or investigating reports of hate crimes.

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