Freedom of Expression for LGBT People in St. Petersburg
The parliament of St. Petersburg wanted to pass a law against "propaganda of homosexualism..." forbidding any form of the self-expression of LGBT people towards persons under 18 years including any form of sexual education in school dealing with LGBT issues or public demonstrations like Gay Pride marches.
International protest has stopped the parlament accepting this law. The European Forum has written a letter to Vadim Tulpanov, the Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg.
Letter to Vadim Tulpanov
Dear Mr. Tulpanov,
The European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Christian Groups is an ecumenical organisation with 45 member groups from 24 European countries.
As a Christian and a social justice movement we use our international voice to strongly remind the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly that freedom of association and expression for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities are civil, political rights and a justice issue, they must not be confused or equated with different theological understandings of homosexuality.
The draft law on the prohibition of so-called ‘propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism, paedophilia to minors’ and the introduction of administrative offense initiated by St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly on 11 November 2011 singles out one group of people to be deprived of the rights of equality before the law and freedom of expression under national and international law. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders explicitly stipulates, in its article 7: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to develop and discuss new human rights ideas and principles and to advocate their acceptance.” If adopted, this bill will criminalize non-governmental organizations and civic leaders engaged in protecting minority rights and will directly support the already extensive discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The religious traditions we have in common as Christians constantly require respect for the equality and human dignity of every person and cannot be used to deprive vulnerable groups and people of their right to private life. Affecting the freedom of expression in the case of LGBT persons is indeed damaging their right to privacy. This right, protected by the Russian Constitution goes beyond what is within and outside private life: it is about the active right to be who you are as a person, group and community. By limiting the public space for interaction, communication and visibility for LGBT, you as legislators deprive them of citizenship and this is a great concern for us, as human rights activists and religious leaders.
Justifying discrimination is wrong. The European Forum urges you to challenge the widespread prejudice that LGBT are inferior human beings who don’t deserve rights of assembly and expression, and to abandon this proposal which equated sexual orientation with pedophilia. The voices of human rights organizations and LGBT movements should be heard in Russia and included in the public dialogue and not harassed by imposed silence.
Diane Xuereb (Netherlands / Malta) Dr. Michael Brinkschröder (Germany)
(Co-Presidents of the European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Christian Groups on behalf of the member Groups)