A petition signed by 250,000 people all over the world urging the European Union to support the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Russia was handed in on Tuesday (13 December).
Activist group AllOut.org gave the document to High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton, and the presidents of the LGBT Intergroup, MEPs Ulrike Lunacek and Michael Cashman, in Strasbourg.
The Legislative Assembly of Saint Petersburg is currently examining a bill to outlaw any public mention of homosexuality or transgender issues.
The draft law also compares homosexuality to paedophilia. Similar laws are already in place in two Russian regions, and lawmakers in Moscow and at the federal level are also said to consider restricting freedom of expression.
Cashman and Lunacek said: ‘We warmly welcome Catherine Ashton’s assurance that she will raise this issue directly with the Russian prime minister.
‘The issue of equal rights for LGBT people and freedom of expression, as well as fair elections, is very dear to all Europeans — and Russians are Europeans, too.’
Andre Banks, co-founder of AllOut.org said: ‘This is a great victory because hundreds of thousands around the world joined AllOut.org to raise their voice. Russian activists have been heard at the highest level of the international community.
‘But we need to continue the fight, and stay mobilized with our friends in Russia until this homophobic bill is repealed.’