In a GSN exclusive, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs has confirmed that the South Pacific nation has been applying diplomatic pressure on Russia to repeal its so-called gay propaganda law in a letter to Sydney state independent MP Alex Greenwich.
Greenwich had contacted Senator Bob Carr urging the Australian Government to ‘publicly oppose draconian homophobic laws introduced in Russia and call on Russia to abandon these laws' and on 16 August, Senator Carr wrote back.
‘I refer to your letter of August 5, 2013, regarding your request for the Australian Government to publicly oppose homophobic laws introduced in Russia and to call on Russia to abandon these laws,’ Carr wrote in a letter seen by GSN.
‘The Australian Government is deeply concerned about the recent passage of legislation in Russia banning the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors.
‘Australia believes that human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and that all people – regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity – are entitled to respect, dignity, and legal protection.
'Australia advocates strongly for non-discrimination, including for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and has worked through multilateral for a as well as through bilateral channels to combat such discrimination by promoting the human rights of all people.’
In the letter Carr revealed that Australia had repeatedly lobbied the Russian Government over its anti-LGBT agenda, asking for the law’s repeal.
‘The Australian Embassy in Moscow has made repeated representations condemning this legislation,’ Carr wrote.
‘We have called on the Russian Government to rescind the legislation, including during the most recent Universal Periodic Review of Russia held at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva in April 2013.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not sign the bill into law until 29 June but several Russian administrative divisions, or oblasts, had already instituted similar local laws by April.
Carr said he had also met with members of Australia’s LGBT community to discuss their concerns over what was happening in Russia.
‘At a meeting with representatives of Australia’s LGBTI civil society groups in Sydney on July 19, 2013, I confirmed that Australia would continue to raise with Russia our concerns with its gay propaganda laws,’ Carr wrote.
Greenwich welcomed Senator Carr confirming that the Australian Government was aware of the issue and working on it and said he hoped that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd would now speak out publicly to condemn the Russian law.
‘It's good to hear that Australia is taking action to condemn the appalling treatment of Russia's LBGTI community,’ Greenwich told GSN.
‘It is now time for our Prime Minister to openly and directly condemn these laws in the way President Obama has.’