Gay Russians promised safe haven in northern Italy

The Emilia Romagna regional assembly passes a resolution to guarantee a new life to Russian gay activists escaping from their country

Gay Russians promised safe haven in northern Italy
16 October 2013

An Italian regional assembly has passed a resolution to protect and host Russian gay refugees escaping from their country because of the new anti-gay laws.

The left-wing Emilia Romagna assembly has voted the bill thanks to the Partito Democratico and Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) parties.

Now the region, one of the most gay-friendly in Italy, will accept Russian LGBT people wanting to change their lives.

Some parties, however, voted against the resolution. Former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party, PDL, and secessionist movement Lega Nord refused to sign the document – and the language they used is an echo of political hatred in Russia itself.

Regional councillor from PDL Enrico Aimi said: ‘The Russian law is aimed at protecting the children. Now Russian gay couples can not adopt children, but this is not allowed in Italy as well. So why are we complaining about Russia?’

Lega Nord councillor Roberto Corradi added: ‘In Emilia Romagna the gay lobbyists want to say what is good and what is evil.

‘They don’t have the right do it, since the Russian government wants to stop the promotion of illegal sexual intercourse between adults and children.

‘But now the assembly is asking the European council to intervene and they want to accept Russian refugees. This is absurd.’

The focus of the Russian legislation is a ban on the ‘propaganda’ of homosexuality to minors – with the law being used to crack down on all LGBT activity or criticism of the government.

The new law makes it illegal to hold any sort of public demonstration in favour of LGBT rights, speak in defense of them and distribute material related to them, or to state gay relationships are equal to heterosexual relationships.

It has led to the arrest of gay activists and apparent rises of hate crimes motivated by homophobia, including hate crimes perpetrated by neo-Nazi groups against gay minors. Gay prides have been banned.

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