Originally published on Advocate.com May 17 2012 9:12 AM ET
In observance of today’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay released a video supporting the rights of LGBT people worldwide. Pillay called for the end of criminal laws against homosexuality, saying “We must punish hatred and violence, not love. The best antidote for homophobia and transphobia is to educate adults and children."
In some parts of the world, those sentiments could get the UN official arrested, Boris Dittrich of Human Rights Watch notes:
In March, 2012 a draconian law went into effect in St. Petersburg. Similar laws are in effect in four other Russian regions. The law claims to protect minors from "gay propaganda" by ensuring that any public act upholding or supporting homosexuality that a minor might see is rendered illegal. The laws in these Russian regions are so broad and vague that wearing a t-shirt with a text that lesbian families should get equal treatment with heterosexual families can get you arrested.
Earlier this year Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov asserted in a media interview that Russia "was trying to protect the society from homosexual propaganda," contending that his approach was acceptable as rights of sexual minorities were nothing but an "appendage to the universal values." Under the guise of protecting minors and upholding public morals the Russian authorities are debating efforts to legitimize homophobia at the federal level. In late March, a draft law of the kind in force in St. Petersburg was introduced in the Russian State Duma.
Read the full op-ed here at Huffington Post.