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U.S. State Dept. speaks out against anti-gay bill in St. Petersburg

Bill to prevent gay freedom of speech could spread throughout Russia

The U.S. State Department on Thursday expressed its opposition to a proposed anti-gay law in St. Petersburg, Russia by reiterating part of a speech Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave to the United Nations in December: 'Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.'

State officials are against the proposed law, which has passed two of the required three readings in its Legislative Assembly, because it would prohibit public speech or events concerning LGBT issues.

'We are concerned by proposed local legislation in Russia that would severely restrict freedoms of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, and indeed all Russians,' the department stated. 'We have called on Russian officials to safeguard these freedoms, and to foster an environment which promotes respect for the rights of all citizens.'

'The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups,' it added.

The support for the bill comes despite diplomatic pressure from Europe as well.

A petition by AllOut.org. All Out, a leading LGBT digital direct action organization, has warned the bill will ‘make it illegal for any person to write a book, publish an article or speak in public about being gay, lesbian, bi or transgender.'

The bill will likely come up for a third vote next week. Similar laws are already in place in two regions of Russia.

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