The Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans has said he was “misquoted” in an earlier report claiming LGBT Russians facing discrimination may apply for asylum in his country, now saying gay people are not “prosecuted” in Russia, so there is no ground for asylum in the Netherlands.
Earlier this month, Timmermans was quoted as saying: “Inhuman treatment must be taken as a serious violation of human rights and must be considered in asylum cases. This can include anti-gay laws but also discrimination by Russian authorities and nationals.”
The Moscow Times Reports the foreign minister was in fact misquoted however, and is now attempting to correct previous media reports.
“First of all, I never said this,” he told RIA Novosti in an interview.
He said: “I answered… parliamentary questions in a written form. And in my answer I said in general terms, it didn’t pertain to Russia specifically, that if homosexuals are prosecuted, they are in a position to ask asylum in the Netherlands.
“At this stage people who are homosexuals are not being prosecuted in Russia, so there is no ground for asylum in the Netherlands. It was a generic answer to a generic question; it was not specifically aimed at Russia.
“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify this, because I was very sorry that the impression was created that this was directed at Russia. It was not.”
In a meeting in February between Timmermans and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Timmermans challenged the legislation, saying that it may be contrary to Russia’s international obligations.