U.S. State Department officials today expressed opposition to a proposed law in St. Petersburg, Russia, that 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 (LGBT) individuals, and indeed all Russians,” reads a statement issued by the department in response to a question raised at yesterday’s White House press briefing. It makes reference to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech before the United Nations, saying, “As Secretary Clinton has said, gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.
The city legislature of St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia, this week gave the second of three required approvals to a measure that would “public activities promoting homosexuality,” including LGBT pride events, and impose a fine on violators. It is likely to come up for a third vote next week, and supporters of the bill are threatening to push for similar legislation nationwide.
“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 State Department response continues. “We have also consulted with our EU partners on this issue. They share our concerns and are also engaging Russian officials on this. The United States places great importance on combating discrimination against the LGBT community and all minority groups.”
The State Department has spoken out against the proposed legislation previously, but Russian officials objected to what they called “attempts to interfere in the legislative process in Russia.”