Vadim Tulpanov, Chair of St Petersburg Legislative Assembly; Georgy Poltavchenko (Govenor of St Petersburg), Alexei Kozyrev (Ombudsman for Human Rights - St Petersburg) Vladimir Lukin (Ombudsman for Human Rights - Russian Federation)
Уважаемые господа, Honoured Sirs,
We the undersigned urge you to:
Resist efforts in the St Petersburg City Legislative Assembly to introduce Articles 70, prohibiting the so-called "propaganda of sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual-ism, transgender-ism to minors" , which is associated and has the same penalties as Article 71 prohibiting the promotion of "paedophilia".
1 We the undersigned are shocked by the introduction by legislative assembly members (of the "United Russia" party) of legal measures to prohibit the so-called "propaganda of sodomy, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual-ism, transgender-ism to minors"
2 The association of "homosexuals" with sexual offences against children is a slur and propaganda *against* lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) people. We, the undersigned are utterly opposed to sexual offences against children, the majority of which, according to all evidence, is committed by heterosexual men.We believe that this is in fact propaganda against: "homosexuals”, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people.
3 We believe that the association of two articles (70 and 71) with the same penalties and sanctions equating "homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people" with the perpetration of illegal and immoral and criminal sexual offences against children is another part of propaganda against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people which will spread misinformation and generate negative attitudes and “hate crime” including violence against LGBT people within St Petersburg and beyond. This is consistent with the experience in other countries around the world.
4 We know that the adoption of such a law "prohibiting propaganda about homosexuality" will in fact endanger young people who lack balanced, accurate information about sexual orientation and gender identity. We are saddened that Russia leads the world in the number of teenage suicides and consistent with all studies around the world, we know that young lesbian gay, bisexual and particularly transgender people will be over-represented in those numbers. As with the adoption of similar laws prohibiting true information about "homosexuality" in other countries such as Section 28 in the UK, we are sure that these measures will lead to tragic consequences for young, vulnerable Russian people.
5 We are concerned that similar laws have been passed in Ryazan and Archangelsk and that members of the Legislative Assembly from the "United Russia" party have suggested a Federal law, which will extend such tragic consequences across the whole of the Russian Federation and lead to the further isolation and suffering of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, especially young people.
6 We believe that sexual identity and gender orientation are as fundamental as left or right handedness or eye colour, we do not believe anyone can be converted from their true nature but that in the absence of accurate information there are very negative consequences for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender (LGBT) people as they come to realise their identity, usually as young people and often as minors. We believe that it is as wrong to force or encourage a "homosexual" to be a "heterosexual" as it would be to force a "heterosexual" to be a "homosexual" just as it is wrong to force a left handed person to be right handed.
8 We believe that such laws that prohibit open discussion on any subject are a denial of freedom of speech and therefore of democracy and are inconsistent with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention for Human Rights, and place Russia in breach of her international treaty obligations.
9 We wish to express our support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of St Petersburg and their friends and families and of course to the LGBT+ people of the whole of the Russian Federation who at conservative estimates must number some 5 Million people. We also wish to express our support for the Russian LGBT organisations: 1) Russian LGBT Network; 2) "Vychod - Coming Out" the LGBT grassroots organisation of St Petersburg and 3) Bok o Bok (Side by Side) who have stated their opposition to this measure. We wish also to express our friendship and greetings to all the peoples of the Russian Federation as they go through the process of understanding these sometimes difficult issues. We are confident that when they understand the truth of LGBT people, that they will come to learn of the significant contribution they make to Russia.
10 Less than one month away from 10 December and the International Day of Human Rights, we call upon you, in the name of humanity, to act vigorously to prevent this law and the suffering that would follow its adoption and refer you to the following:
i) Commentary from the report on Discrimination on Grounds of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Europe (Council of Europe, June, 2011) regarding the adoption of laws against the "promotion of homosexuality."
ii) Key Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers № CM/Rec (2010)5 to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity from 31 March, 2010 and on measures to be taken by member states with regard to the actual CE observance and respect for the rights of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.
iii) Reference to the ECHR's decision “B. against France, complaint № 13343/87, dated March 25, 1992”, “Dudgeon v. United Kingdom, complaint № 7525/76, dated October 22, 1981, and subsequent cases), which concern the right to receive adequate information.