Showing posts with label International Human Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label International Human Rights. Show all posts

December 19, 2016

UN 2nd Attempt Won to Not Stop LGBT Human Rights Investigations


 Supporters of gay rights have won a major victory at the United Nations with the failure of a second African attempt to stop a U.N. independent expert from investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

After a first defeat Nov. 21 in the General Assembly's human rights committee, African nations led by Burkina Faso attempted again Monday to suspend the work of the first LGBT expert. But the result was almost identical.

Those countries sought to delay implementation of a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to determine "the legal basis" for the expert's mandate.

Opponents introduced an amendment to eliminate the call for a delay. It was adopted by a vote of 84-77 with 16 abstentions, virtually the same as the committee’s 84-77 vote with 12 abstentions.


December 2, 2016

First UN HR Investigator Promises Investigations into Abuses

The first-ever U.N. independent expert selected to examine violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people has vowed to forge ahead with wide-ranging investigations despite formidable opposition to his appointment in a U.N. vote.
"This mandate will cover every country under the sun and under the moon," Vitit Muntarbhorn said at a LGBT conference in Bangkok on Wednesday. "There can never be a political or legal vacuum in terms of protecting people."
This includes working with countries opposed to his appointment, Vitit said.
"We also have to cover not only peace, but war," he said, noting that members of the Islamic State group have reportedly killed people accused of being gay by throwing them off buildings.
Vitit's U.N. position was in peril last week when a group of African nations nearly derailed his appointment by the Human Rights Council, saying the U.N. was prioritizing LGBT issues over discrimination based on race or religion. Blocking a Human Rights Council appointee would be unprecedented, according to U.N. officials.
Vitit, who was appointed on Sept. 30 and has started his duties, faces a final vote in the U.N. General Assembly later this month but is expected to be approved. In the meantime, he says he will "just carry on with the work."
He is in charge of writing a U.N. report on violence against LGBT people, as well as receiving and responding to complaints of abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
To achieve these goals, he plans to visit a "balance" of developed and poorer countries in different regions.
"No entity, no authorities are monolithic," Vitit said. "We will find strands, advocacy of kindness, consideration, humanity, in pretty much every region, and we must use that well in terms of building the capacity to rationalize with those authorities that might not yet be open enough."
"You will always find someone, even among those governments, that are slightly more open to discussion," he added.
Along with Africa, opponents to Vitit's appointment include countries in the Middle East as well as China and Russia. At least 76 countries have laws in place that criminalize or discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a U.N. report last year.
In a fiery speech to hundreds of cheering gay rights supporters, Vitit emphasized the need for a wide, inclusive focus.
Vitit was previously a U.N. outside investigator into human rights in North Korea, which consistently denied his requests for meetings during his six years in the role.

September 21, 2016

Proof Positive Russian Airstrikes Hit the Aid Convoy

This image provided by the Syrian anti-government group Aleppo 24 news, shows damaged trucks carrying aid, in Aleppo, Syria, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. A U.N. humanitarian aid convoy in Syria was hit by airstrikes Monday as the Syrian military declared that a U.S.-Russian brokered cease-fire had failed. The US says it is holding Russia responsible for the attack, saying two Russian SU-24 figther jets (inset) were in the area during the attack. AP

 American military officials told CNN on Tuesday that radar, signals intelligence, and aerial surveillance all suggest that Russian aircraft were responsible for airstrikes on an aid convoy near Aleppo, Syria that killed at least 20 people.
"All the evidence we have points to that conclusion," one official told CNN.
The Red Crescent aid convoy was heading to a village just outside Aleppo Monday night when 18 of its 31 trucks, which were carrying UN supplies, were struck in at least two waves of strikes. As a result, the UN has halted all aid delivery in the country.
The attack occurred shortly after a ceasefire agreement between the Syrian regime and rebels seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad, which was intended to allow the passage of humanitarian aid, broke down amid renewed fighting.
The Russian military had already denied that Russia or Syria had anything to do with the attacks. Russia's defense ministry released drone footage that they argue proves other factors were at play.
"We carefully studied the video recordings of the so-called activists from the scene and found no signs that any munitions hit the convoy," said Russian military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov, according to Kremlin-owned news agency TASS. "Everything shown on the video is the direct consequence that the cargo caught fire and this began in a strange way simultaneously with carrying out a massive offensive of militants in Aleppo."
While the official explanation was that the convoy had not been hit with munitions, Konashenkov did imply that an offensive from Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda linked militant group, had something to do with the deadly strikes.
Later in the day, TASS issued a new report, again quoting Konashenkov, suggesting that the convoy had been accompanied by a "terrorists' truck with a mortar."
"It is not clear who is covering home [sic]: either the mortar is covering the convoy with the White Helmets volunteers or vise versa," the spokesperson said, seemingly implying that the humanitarian aid workers had been working in conjunction with the al-Nusra fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which employs a network of activists in the country to monitor attacks on civilians, reports that it was a series of airstrikes that took out the convoy in Aleppo.
If Russia is proven responsible for the attack, it would be a black eye for the Putin regime, which spent the better part of Monday condemning an accidental airstrike carried out by the US on a Syrian military position, also near Aleppo. 
It's not the first time Russia and America have argued about who was behind an airstrike in Syria. In August, neither country could agree on who was responsible for taking out the Islamic State's second-in-command.
Despite the seeming disintegration of the cease fire, US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that the agreement is “not dead" and is planning on meeting his counterparts, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, again on Friday.
Follow Justin Ling on Twitter: @Justin_Ling

June 18, 2015

Why the Cocks Fight and Ethnic Cleansing in the Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic has gone back 86 years to uproot not only Haitians but Haitian descendants who see themselves as Dominicans and their language is spanish and they know no other. To go back generations to up root people is immoral. Most people not aware of the rife between these two countries that share the same island ask why are the Haitians registering and not just mixing in the population? The answer is the color of the skin. Haitians are black of french heritage. Dominicans are mostly brown and see themselves as descendants of Spain. 

The Island was colonized by the spanish and the Haitians by the french but both have been occupied by the US. Having won Puerto Rico from Spain the US figured they had their presence guarantee in the Caribbean together with Cuba with an over friendly but corrupt Government. 
In Hispaniola (original name of the island) the US was more than happy to get out in which it saw as colony for just some US giant corporations. However the US intervened in the D.R. twice with US marines because of civil strife. Eisenhower sent the marines in the 50’s and also Lindon Johnson in the 60’s.  The Marines were also sent to Haiti by President Clinton after the brutal Dictator “Papa Doc” threatened to come back after leaving during a rebelion. Meaning the Us has seen itself a little responsible for helping this island from a distance.

It’s a shame that the Dominican Republic having been colonized just like Haiti and many of its residents having left for the US to look for a better life it’s a shame that they wont aloud the Haitians what they themselves have asked of this nation. One have to ask, if the Haitians were brown and white like most of the Dominicans, would there be such a rush to dislocate hundreds of thousand Haitians? (at least 250,000 have registered and almost all of them are due to be deported in the next 48 hours).

We have seen ethnic cleansing in Europe but never in the Caribbean or a Spanish country for that matter. The D.R. is making history the wrong way and one way in which the world particularly in the America’s would remember with a bitter taste in their consiences. 
Color of skin, gender, sexual orientation, nationality still play such an important negative role in the world when it should not. Its like those things I just mentioned made you human or not. Today in Africa people and the middle east people are slaughter in the name of nationality and religion. 
Color of the Haitian Skin:

There is an artificial line that splits the island of Hispaniola in two. On one side is Haiti, and on the other is the Dominican Republic.
There was a time when that split between the two countries was drawn with blood; the 1937 Parsley Massacre is widely regarded as a turning point in Haitian-Dominican relations. The slaughter, carried out by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, targeted Haitians along with Dominicans who looked dark enough to be Haitian -- or whose inability to roll the "r" in perejil, the Spanish word for parsley, gave them away.The Dajabón River, which serves as the northernmost part of the international border between the two countries, had "risen to new heights on blood alone," wrote Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat."The massacre cemented Haitians into a long-term subversive outsider incompatible with what it means to be Dominicans," according to Border of Lights, an organization that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the massacre in 2012.Today, things are as tense on the island as they have been in years. Within days, the Dominican government is expected to round up Haitians — or, really, anyone black enough to be Haitian — and ship them to the border, where they will likely be expelled.
 Island of Hispaniola


The Dominican Republic is set to begin what some are calling "ethnic purging," placing the fate of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent into limbo. Half a million legally stateless people could be sent to Haiti this week, including those who have never stepped foot in Haiti and don’t speak the language. In 2013, a Dominican constitutional court ruling stripped the citizenship of children born to Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic as far back as 1929, retroactively leaving tens of thousands without citizenship. Today marks the deadline for undocumented workers to register their presence in the Dominican Republic or risk mass deportation. However, only 300 of the 250,000 Dominican Haitians applying for permits have reportedly received them. Many have actively resisted registering as foreigners, saying they are Dominican by birth and deserve full rights. Dominican authorities have apparently organized a fleet of buses and set up processing centers on the border with Haiti, creating widespread fears of mass roundups. The Dominican Republic’s decision to denationalize hundreds of thousands of people has sparked international outcry. We are joined by the acclaimed Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat.

February 11, 2015

In Malaysia Top Judges send Opposing Contenders to jail for Sodomy

Malaysia's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)
Malaysia’s opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch)
The conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim after seven years of politically motivated proceedings under an abusive and archaic law is a major setback for human rights in Malaysia, Human Rights Watch said today.
On February 10, 2015, the Federal Court of Malaysia upheld a lower court ruling and sentenced Anwar to five years in prison for violating Malaysia’s sodomy law. The Malaysian authorities should exonerate Anwar, a former deputy prime minister, and the government should act to repeal section 377 of the penal code.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (Photo courtesy of
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (Photo courtesy of
“Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government has persisted in its politically motivated prosecution of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim at the expense of democratic freedoms and the rights to non-discrimination and privacy for all Malaysians,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Allowing this travesty of justice to stand will further undermine respect for rights and democracy in Malaysia.”
The decision of the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest court, strips Anwar of his seat in the federal Parliament where he leads the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Malaysian election law provides that any person who is imprisoned for as little as one day or fined 2,000 ringgit (US$550) is forbidden from running for office for five years after release from prison. Many observers believe that the five-year ban from politics, when coupled with his prison sentence, means an effective end to Anwar’s political career.
Police arrested Anwar on July 16, 2008, based on a complaint from Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, a political aide, that Anwar had consensual sex with him. Serious fair trial concerns arose throughout the original trial, including the prosecutors’ unwillingness to provide defense lawyers with access to medical and other evidence against their client. Nevertheless, the High Court acquitted Anwar on January 9, 2012, ruling that DNA samples that were central to the prosecution’s case had not been handled or maintained properly and thus were possibly contaminated. The High Court judge said the only other major evidence was the alleged victim’s statements, and those were uncorroborated.
Palace of Justice in Patrajaya, which houses the Federal Court of Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Palace of Justice in Patrajaya, which houses the Federal Court of Malaysia. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
The government appealed and on March 7, 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the acquittal and sentenced Anwar to five years in prison. The appeal court hearing, originally scheduled for April, was hurriedly moved to March 6 and 7. In addition, the verdict and sentencing hearing were conducted on the same day despite defense counsel requests, which were denied, that they be given adequate time to prepare for mitigation, including provision of medical evidence. The sentencing hearing was conducted after a one-hour recess on a day of proceedings that had lasted until 5 p.m. The immediate result was that Anwar’s conviction disqualified him from running in the Kajang district state assembly election in Selangor on March 23. If Anwar had been permitted to run and won the seat, he would have been eligible to seek the position of chief minister of Selangor state, a development strongly opposed by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch for Asia: Anwar trials are "political vendetta." (Photo courtesy of
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch for Asia: Anwar trials are “political vendetta.” (Photo courtesy of
This is the fourth time Anwar has been charged under section 377 of the penal code, a law that discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The article has been invoked only seven times since 1938, according to research by the Women’s Candidacy Initiative. The willingness of successive Malaysian governments to use the law repeatedly against one high-profile political opponent highlights the danger it poses so long as it remains on the books, Human Rights Watch said.
“By persisting in its political vendetta using section 377, the government is also denigrating Malaysia’s LGBT community,” Robertson said. “Using an archaic and discriminatory law in order to score political points shows Prime Minister Najib’s encouragement of intolerance under his rule.”


Malaysia's highest court has upheld opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's conviction on sodomy charges and his five-year prison sentence in a case he and his supporters have denounced as a fabrication.
The Federal Court's judgement on Tuesday upheld a ruling by the Court of Appeal in March last year, which found the 67-year-old guilty of sodomising a former political aide.
Addressing the court, Anwar accused the panel of justices for taking part in a "political conspiracy" by Malaysia's ruling regime.
Hundreds of Anwar supporters, surrounded by dozens of police, gathered outside the court [AFP]
statement by the Malaysian government said on Tuesday: "The judges will have reached their verdict only after considering all the evidence in a balanced and objective manner. Malaysia has an independent judiciary, and there have been many rulings against senior government figures."
Hee Loy Sian, a fellow MP from Anwar's party, told Al Jazeera that the opposition People's Justice Party will meet in a few hours to decide on its next steps following the judgment.
"It is an injustice. There are some political influences. There is no independence of the judiciary. It is a black history for Malaysia. How can the leader of the opposition be jailed?"
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Anwar's lawyer Rasiah Sivarasa, said that the case was "politically motivated."
He claimed that Anwar's main accuser had met then deputy prime minister Najib Razak, now the country's leader, before filing the case against Anwar.   
'DNA evidence tainted' 
Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from the city of Putrajaya, said Anwar's wife, who is also the president of the People's Justice Party, cried at the court and asked for a private moment with her husband following the announcement of the verdict.
Rahman said Anwar's lawyers had argued during the appeal hearing that DNA evidence against him was tainted, a claim rejected by the court.
Sodomy is illegal in Muslim-majority Malaysia where the offence carries a jail term of up to 20 years.

November 1, 2014

Gays Evacuate Ukraine Under Russian control “ A Stranger in Your Country”

Kyiv supports refugees from other parts of Ukraine but proves unsafe for Pride

Olena Semenova, one of the organizers of Kyiv Pride, talks   about why they had to cancel Pride in her city. Also, she explains how gay people are fleeing areas of Ukraine that have been taken over by Russians. Semenova and other Ukrainian activists who attended WorldPride in Toronto inspired an upcoming documentary called The Pride of Ukraine: Inspire a World of Change.  

May 2, 2014

Brunei Implements ‘Stone to death' to gays and Adulterers


Brunei will begin a phased-in implementation of a new Islamic penal code from May 1 that prescribes stoning as punishment for adultery and homosexuality.
The law, which was expected to be introduced last month but was delayed, will be brought in over a three-year period. According tothe Brunei Times, offences that are penalized with fines and prison time will be part of the first phase, corporal punishment will be enforced in the second phase, and the death penalty will be implemented in the third.
The United Nations, international human rights groups that include Amnesty International, and LGBT advocacy groups in Asiahave condemned the law, which was first announced by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah in October last year. At that time, Bolkiah characterized the measure as “a special guidance from Allah to us all,” adding that it is “now part of the great history of our nation.”
Midnight Poonkasetwattana, executive director of the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM) says, “This law carries heavy and degrading penalties that create barriers towards enjoying the right to sexual health, especially in accessing preventive measures that will protect people from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. This law will further, if not lead to, discrimination against gay and transgender people.” 
At a press conference, a spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights said, “The criminalization and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private . . . violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, to equality before the law, the right to health and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. The provisions of the revised penal code may encourage further violence and discrimination against women and also against people on the basis of sexual orientation.”
A number of gay rights groups have called for a boycott of hotel chains and properties owned by Bolkiah; these include The Dorchester, Coworth Park and 45 Park Lane in London; the Beverly Hills Hotel, Hotel Bel-Air, and Hotel Eden in the United States; Principe di Savoia in Italy; and Hotel Le Meurice in Paris, theInternational Business Times reports.
Brunei shrinks, 1861-1905
While an LGBT conference that was to be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel has already been cancelled, a number of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Osbourne and Stephen Fry, have announced they will be boycotting Brunei-owned businesses.

April 21, 2014

Quiet and Death Have Equal Components “Speak Out”


Political parties, to some extent or another, are coalitions centreing around related beliefs. In many democracies this is reflected in the fact that multiple parties compete with each other, indicating that it is not possible to muster broad coalitions. In others, a few parties prevail, as in Malta and the UK. In the latter case, a primary task is to keep the inevitable coalition together so that differences of opinion are ironed out internally, allowing the party to present a broadly united public front.
Sometimes it works. At others it does not and internal strains spill over into the public domain. Leaders try to keep the differing factions together internally, while glibly putting up a brave front externally.
More often than not, compromises are reached, leading to some political observers to hold that politics is the art of compromise. Compromise is an important factor in politics. Inevitably, it raises the question, compromise yes, but at what price? The price begins to manifest itself in public when subscribers to the compromise feel impelled to make their own position clear.
These processes were in action in Malta in recent weeks, culminating in the abstention by the Nationalist Opposition on the vote that paved the way for the Civil Unions Act to come into being.
The Opposition, tying up the various loose ideological ends, was able to reach compromise agreement on most of the provisions of the Bill. Try as it might, it could not reach a compromise on the provision confirming the right of gay couples to apply to adopt a child. After heated debate behind closed doors, the Opposition decided on the clearest confirmation of all that it was divided.
When it came to the vote, the Opposition abstained. Its members echoed the words in a popular song by Ronan Keating: You say it best when you say nothing at all. That may be the case between starry-eyed lovers. It is not the case outside romantic liaisons.
You say it best when you argue your point logically and persuasively. And persuade a majority of your colleagues to support you.
When you conclude that it would be best to say nothing at all, as the Nationalists did, you appear weak, running away from the issue at hand.
Saying nothing about MPs’ opinion betrays the depth of their internal division, and the inability of the leadership to bring about consensus on a factor which deals with minority rights. It was a tenuous way of escaping from a burning reality, one that would crack soon enough.
It began to crack even before the new President had signed the Bill into law, as she will be doing shortly. One of the new Opposition MPs went public with her stance. Trying to reach out to some friends and, probably, part of her support base, she made it clear that she was in favour of allowing gays to seek approval to adopt.
After heated debate behind closed doors, the Opposition decided on the clearest confirmation of all that it was divided
I doubt that her statement pleased the leadership and those who like her had been favour of the Bill, adoption provision and all, but had sacrificed their liberal standing in the name of tenuous unity. Whether it does so or not, or whether it leads to angry tightening up of internal discipline is immaterial.
That there were deep divisions within the Opposition is a well-known fact. Traditionally, the PN has had to reach a balance between hardliners and modernisers.
This time round, it could not do so in a politically palatable manner. Above all, the new leader was made to appear weak, unable to stamp his authority on his diminished parliamentary group, despite his probable personal beliefs as a moderniser. The abstention threw the Nationalist Party back a number of years, belying its claims that it had learned its lessons and how to respond to the wishes of the various sectors of the electorate.
Democracy is tested, among other things, through how it deals with its minorities. How the rights of minorities are promoted and protected. In the case of civil rights, like those of gays, there is a simple starter reason for doing so.
Giving rights to a minority does not take anything away from the majority. Introducing the facility of divorce does not oblige those who do not want to use it to do so.
Recognising the right of gays to equal treatment does not oblige non-gay persons to turn gay. Gay rights do not take anything away from majority rights.
If this simple reasoning is accepted and applied wherever possible, there would not be so much heat in the public debate which accompanies such issues. The bishops have finally got it right. They stress that for Catholics the line of belief is that set by the Church, which is against civil unions, gay adoption and divorce.
Catholics who fall out of line err in the eyes of the Church, although now they are addressed far more humanely and lovingly than yesteryear when hellfire and brimstone were flung at them. But the matter rests there.
I find it strange that the strength of this line of reasoning is not recognised by those who oppose rights extended to minorities who practise them among themselves and do not impose them on any one. Had the traditionalists in the Nationalist Opposition accepted and followed this reasoning, they would not have brought their party into the ridiculous position of saying nothing at all when it came to the crunch and the issue reached a crescendo.
They would not have made their new leader look weak and lacking clout.
You say it right when you express your views clearly and forcefully in the belief that you are right while recognising the inalienable right of others to disagree with you.
You say it right when you say it clearly and unequivocally. 

March 12, 2014

Constitutional Challenge to Uganda’s Anti Gay Law

 Ten petitioners have filed a constitutional challenge against Uganda’s anti-gay law, saying it violates fundamental rights, and noting that there was a lack of quorum in parliament at the time of the measure’s passage.
Gay rights activist Frank Mugisha; founder of Freedom & Roam Uganda, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera; transgender activist Julian Pepe Onziema; the advocacy group, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG); MP Fox Odoi; and former leader of the Opposition Morris Ogenga Latigo are among the petitioners.
The petition, filed in the Constitutional Court of Uganda in Kampala, says the Anti-Homosexuality Act, “in defining and criminalising consensual same sex/gender sexual activity among adults in private, [is] in contravention of the right to equality before the law without any discrimination and the right to privacy” guaranteed under the Ugandan constitution.
It also states that the anti-gay law’s criminalization of “touching by persons of the same sex” creates an offence that is “overly broad” and also violates the constitution.
The petition adds that the act, “in imposing a maximum life sentence for homosexuality provides for a disproportionate punishment for the offence in contravention of the right to equality and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” also guaranteed under the constitution.
The act also violates the constitution by “criminalising consensual same sex/gender sexual activity among adults in which one is a person living with HIV;” by “subjecting persons charged with aggravated homosexuality to a compulsory HIV test;” by “classifying houses or rooms as brothels merely on the basis ofoccupation by homosexuals;” among other claims.
The petitioners also say that spirit of the Anti-Homosexuality Act promotes and encourages homophobia, thereby fostering “institutionalised promotion of a culture of hatred and constitutes a contravention of the right to dignity.”
Read the petition in its entirety.
A hearing date must now be set, but the case could take years to reach final resolution.
After president Yoweri Museveni gave assent to the measure, a number of European countries announced they were withdrawing or re-routing aid to the country, while the World Bank has withheld a multimillion-dollar loan pending review.
French telecommunications company, Orange, also indicated it is not renewing its advertising contract with the Ugandan newspaper, Red Pepper, which is infamous for outing people who are gay, or believed to be gay.

July 26, 2013

Putin Should KnowThat What his Country is Doing Britain Did 1988-It Did Not Turn Out Good

Gay rights activists hold a banner saying
Gay rights activists hold a banner reading 'Homophobia – the religion of bullies' in Red Square, Moscow. Photograph: Evgeny Feldman/AP
As the lesbian and gay minorities of France, England and Wales celebrate the recent laws permitting same-sex couples to marry, Russia is marching briskly in the opposite direction, with an extreme version of Britain's infamous section 28 that could put athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in jail for up to 15 days.
It is bad enough that Russia refuses to comply with a 2010 judgment of the European court of human rights, Alekseyev v Russia, which requires Moscow to allow the kind of lesbian and gay pride event that is held in most major European cities. But the legal situation was made much worse by a federal law of 29 June 2013, which imposes heavy fines on individuals and NGOs accused of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors expressed in distribution of information … aimed at the formation … of … misperceptions of the social equivalence of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations". Prosecutions under the new "propaganda law", which potentially bans any public indication of support for the idea that same-sex and different-sex relationships should be treated equally; and an existing "foreign agents law", could strangleRussia's young lesbian and gay human rights movement.
Russia's "propaganda law" is staggering in its disregard for the founding principles of a democracy: freedom of expression, assembly and association. The most basic right of every lesbian and gay minority in every democracy in the world is to make itself visible and to campaign for legal reforms, by holding peaceful public assemblies and forming associations that seek to persuade the heterosexual majority to change its mind, and stop discriminating against the minority, one law at a time. Governments have an obligation to protect these assemblies and associations from those who find them offensive and threaten them with violence. This is true even in the 75 or more countries that criminalise same-sex sexual activity.
The apparent justification for the law (protection of minors) was rejected by the former European commission of human rights in 1997, in the context of Britain's unequal age of consent, because there has never been any evidence that an individual's sexual orientation is determined by their first sexual experience, let alone mere information, such as the sight of a placard or a rainbow flag at a demonstration. As the European court of human rights observed in Alekseyev: "There is no scientific evidence … suggesting that the mere mention of homosexuality, or open public debate about sexual minorities' social status, would adversely affect children."
What is to be done? All bodies or institutions of the United Nations (building on a decision of the United Nations human rights committee), the Council of Europe, and the EU, as well as all democratic national governments, should be condemning the new law and demanding its repeal in the strongest possible terms. They should do so immediately, or face the prospect of athletes, coaches or supporters being arrested and deported for displaying "propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations" at the Sochi games.
Britain has a special contribution to make. First, David Cameron should confess to President Putin that we passed a similar but less extreme law in 1988 (section 28), which banned "the teaching … of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship". That law, fully repealed in 2003, was a mistake, which Russia should learn from rather than imitate.
Second, before criticising Russia for refusing to comply with the 2010 Alekseyev judgment and for making things worse with its "propaganda law" (which clearly violates the European convention on human rights), Cameron must make sure that he has swept his own doorstep. Since October 2005, the UK has failed to comply with Hirst v UK, a judgment of the European court of human rights requiring us to amend our blanket ban on prisoners voting by granting the right to vote at least to prisoners serving shorter sentences. Cameron is claiming a non-existent "cultural exemption" from article 46 of the convention, because permitting someprisoners to vote, as in at least 75% of European countries, is not part of British culture and makes him feel "physically ill". (In western Europe, Britain now has the only blanket ban on prisoners voting, just as we were the only large western European country with a blanket ban on lesbian and gay members of the armed forces in 1999.) Putin is claiming the same "cultural exemption" from article 46 for lesbian and gay human rights, which he does not see as part of Russian culture.
Ironically, Russia also has a blanket ban on prisoners voting and lostAnchugov v Russia on 4 July 2013. Perhaps Cameron and Putin can start by agreeing that they will both respect the authority of the European court of human rights by amending their rules on votes for prisoners. Then Cameron, having stepped outside his glass house, will be in a position to call on Putin to repeal the "propaganda law", and authorise a lesbian and gay pride event in Moscow in May 2014, and perhaps even in Sochi before that.

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