WASHINGTON — Russia is openly distancing itself from language included in a joint statement released by the G8 Foreign Ministers Meeting Chairman on Thursday that supported the rights and freedoms of LGBT individuals.
“The ministers reaffirmed that human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all individuals, male and female, including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.
“These individuals often face death, violence, harassment and discrimination because of their sexual orientation in many countries around the world.”
A footnote indicated that the Russian Federation “disassociates itself from this language,” with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov saying Friday that “under the pretext of protecting the so-called sexual minorities, in effect there’s aggressive propaganda and the imposition of certain behavior and values that may insult the majority of the society.”
Ryabkov added that the international law has no separate norms for the protection of people according to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Russian lawmakers in the National Duma (Parliament) are considering a bill that would impose fines for spreading gay “propaganda” among minors, a measure that is similar to legislation adopted in February in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.
That law bans “homosexual propaganda” directed at minors, with fines of up to $17,000 for offenders.
Two people have already been prosecuted for displaying a sign reading “being gay is normal” near a youth club. The city’s lawmakers are pushing to have the law enacted in the whole country. Three other Russian regions have also enacted similar laws.
The Duma has four times rejected drafts banning “homosexual propaganda,” saying that homosexuality is not a criminal offense, unlike in the former Soviet Union, and therefore promoting it isn’t illegal.
However, according to a recent poll by the Levada Center, 74-percent of Russians consider homosexuality an amoral mental deviation, and less than half of those polled think that LGBTQ people should have equal rights.
The G8 (or, Group of Eight) is a forum for the governments of eight of the world’s largest economies, and includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Russia.