Current Affairs

Edinburgh called on to stop St Petersburg anti-gay law

Stephen Gray January 20, 2012
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A coalition of groups has called on the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Scotland to to intervene on St Petersburg’s anti-gay law.

Edinburgh is twinned with the Russian city, whose lawmakers passed an initial vote on a “gay propaganda” law last year by 27 to 1.

Amid international condemnation, a further vote on the bill, which threatens the voice of the city’s gay community, was postponed in November.

Now Amnesty International Scotland and the Equality Network are among those asking Edinburgh’s Lord Provost to use his diplomatic power to urge authorities in Russia’s second largest city to throw it out completely.

The position is equivalent to that of a mayor in many towns and cities.

Nearly a quarter of a million people signed a petition in December calling on world leaders to hold Russia to account for the law.

Amnesty International Scotland, Equality Network, Scottish Youth Parliament and NUS Scotland LGBT have all called on the Scottish capital’s figurehead, whose position is broadly similar to that of a mayor.

If enacted, the St Petersburg law would allow the authorities to impose fines of up to the equivalent of £1,000 for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”

Commentators say it would rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of gays and LGBT organisations.

Shabnum Mustapha, Amnesty International’s Programme Director in Scotland, said: “Throughout Russia, we have witnessed a clampdown on freedom of expression of LGBTI individuals, NGOs and activists.

“There has been harassment, intimidation and interference with gay prides and other public events; as well physical violence and the detention of peaceful demonstrators by the police. To seek to ‘legitimise’ this discrimination and oppression of the LGBTI community through legislation is appalling.”

Nathan Sparkling, NUS Scotland’s LGBT Officer, said: “Legislation such as this will only further marginalise LGBTI people and must be stopped – in St Petersburg and throughout Russia. The notion that Russia’s youth are somehow being converted through ‘propoganda’ would be laughable if the repercussions weren’t so dangerous.”

Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said: “The twinning of St Petersburg and Edinburgh provides the Lord Provost with a legitimate platform from which to raise grave concerns about the treatment of the LGBTI community and to call on the Governor of St Petersburg to oppose the legislation.

“Failure to do so would be tantamount to condoning this draconian and extremely harmful legislation.”

Grant Costello, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “The Scottish Youth Parliament hope that Edinburgh City Council encourages all of the city’s international partners and friends from around the world to acknowledge the importance of fairness and equality in civic society.”

The Lord Provost’s office declined to comment on the request when contacted by today.

Edinburgh is also twinned with Florence (in Italy), Dunedin (New Zealand), Nice (France), Krakow (Poland), San Diego (USA), Aalborg (Denmark), Kiev (Ukraine), Kyoto (Japan), Xi’an (China), Vancouver (Canada), and Munich (Germany).

More: Europe, Russia, Scotland

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