German and EU foreign ministers slam Russia on gay rights

The foreign ministers of Germany and the European Union criticized Russia’s draft bill banning ‘homosexual propaganda’

German and EU foreign ministers slam Russia on gay rights
30 January 2013

Germany’s openly gay foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, has told the Russian ambassador that his country’s draft bill banning ‘homosexual propaganda’ contravenes human rights and could harm the country’s ties with Europe.

Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs also voiced concerns and critique, today (30 January).

In a meeting on Monday (28 January) evening between Westerwelle and Russia’s ambassador in Berlin, Vladimir Grinin, it was made clear that in Germany’s view the law violated the European human rights convention.

An unidentified German foreign ministry official told Der Spiegel: ‘Such a law will hamper European-Russian relations and will harm Russia’s image in Europe’.

In addition, Westerwelle said that as a friend of Russia and defender of good relations, he was personally disappointed by the development: ‘Part of democracy, is the protection of minorities’, he was reported as saying.

Westerwelle, however, has been previously strongly criticized for going on state visits to countries that punish homosexuality with death while not even raising concerns over this practice.

During his visits to United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Iran, Westerwelle prefers that his civil partner, Michael Mronz, stays at home and has been on record saying their ‘cultural values’ must be respected.

A spokesperson for Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs also condemned the Russian bill today, saying:

‘The implementation of this law could reinforce discrimination against LGBT people as well as all those who support them and their choices, in particular by limiting their freedom of expression and their freedom of association and assembly.

‘The High Representative calls on the Russian Federation to uphold its national and international commitments – in particular in the framework of the Council of Europe as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – to protect the enjoyment of these rights by all individuals’.

The bill has to pass two more readings in the Russia Duma, and if adopted it would not only make gay pride parades a prosecutable offence, but even something as simple as waving the rainbow flag could be punishable.

The bill would make promotion of public events and dissemination of information on LGBT issues to minors illegal.

Human rights groups are also concerned that the law may ban information, education and counselling regarding HIV/AIDS for gay men.

Fines are steep in comparison with average Russian incomes, with those violating the law being forced to pay penalties of between €100 and €12,500 (US$ 130 and US$ 16,966), the latter representing the average annual salary in the country.

Both the EU and the UN have previously expressed criticism against Russian regions that have passed similar anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws. 



No thumbnail available

Lawsuits thrown out in gay sex scandal involving voice of Sesame Street's Elmo

Kevin Clash faced several suits alleging he had sex with underage male teens decades ago
No thumbnail available

Romney names anti-gay Paul Ryan as running mate

With a long record of voting against gay rights, the social and economic conservative is likely to appeal to staunch right-wingers
No thumbnail available

Sherlock star Andrew Scott: Ireland made me 'ashamed' to be gay

Irish actor, most famous for playing Moriarty in the BBC drama hit, reveals how growing up in a country where it was illegal to be gay affected him
No thumbnail available

History made at Welsh LGBT History Month

Wales' top officials to honour gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people at opening of event
No thumbnail available

Interim ‘pope’ blamed church child sex scandal on gays

After Pope Benedict XVI officially resigns, Italy's Tarcisio Bertone will take over until the conclave of cardinals reach a decision on a new leader
No thumbnail available

Playwright Alan Bennett ‘didn’t want gay label’

When he was once asked about his sexuality by Ian McKellen, he said: '‘That’s a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water'
No thumbnail available

Freddie Smith hopes audiences will accept new version of popular gay couple on Days of Our Lives

'We’re still telling a great story and shedding light on what’s happening'
Idaho lesbian wins final legal battle to be buried with wife in state military cemetery
No thumbnail available

Gay bankers at Barclays get their own mobile app

British bank Barclays launches mobile app to help lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender staff keep up to date
No thumbnail available

Police arrest 40 over drugs and drink at Brighton Pride

Pride organizers defend Sussex Police after accused of 'kettling' anti-government group Queers Against Cuts during the parade