Russia’s “gay propaganda” law is directly harming and endangering LGBT+ children and young people, according to a new report.
The report – which is called “No Support: Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda’ Law Imperils LGBT Youth” – was released today by Human Rights Watch, and runs to 92 pages.
The human rights group found that the law, which was implemented in 2013, exacerbated hostility towards LGBT+ people in Russia.
They also found that the law has prevented LGBT+ people from accessing inclusive education and support services, and that this has had a detrimental impact on children and young people.
Human Rights Watch interviewed LGBT+ young people in Russia to gain an understanding of the impact the law is having on Russian youth.
LGBT+ life in Russia: Stigma, harassment and violence
The interviews pointed to an intensification of stigma, harassment and violence against LGBT+ people since the law was passed in 2013.
Human Rights Watch also found that the law was preventing mental health professionals from offering the necessary support to LGBT+ youth.
One transgender person, who is 18 years old, told Human Rights Watch that LGBT+ people in Russia now fear getting beaten on the street.
“We know that most people believe the mass media, and the stories there teach them that we are horrible creatures, so we are in danger all the time.”
Another young person – an 18 year old university student – said the law was akin to “cutting off air” from the LGBT+ community.
Meanwhile, a 14 year old lesbian told Human Rights Watch that the law gives homophobes free rein, and said that LGBT+ people “are afraid to organise prides and demonstrations.”
She also said that LGBT+ people are afraid of being “beaten or humiliated” as the offenders would likely go unpunished.
Dr Ilan Meyer, an expert in social psychology and public health who submitted testimony about the law to the European Court of Human Rights, said that the law has a “serious negative impact” on LGBT+ young people.
“The law increases and enshrines stigma and prejudice, leading to discrimination and violence,” he added.
Recommendations to Russia
The report also issued a series of recommendations to Russia’s government concerning the law.
Human Rights Watch has asked the President of the Russian Federation to issue a public statement “condemning the use of hate speech towards LGBT+ people.”
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They also asked the government to repeal the “gay propaganda” law, and to repeal or amend other laws that foster discrimination against LGBT+ people.
The group has also called on the Russian government to introduce legislation that would protect the rights “of all LGBT+ people, including children.” They recommend laws to combat discrimination in public services, among others.
The report also asks the European Union and other member states to heap pressure on the Russian government to repeal the law.
The Russian “gay propaganda” law has been a source of controversy ever since it was enacted in 2013.
Earlier this month, police confiscated 17 drawings from a school in Yekateringburg for “promoting homosexuality.”
Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in November that Russia’s ban of pride events was violating LGBT+ people’s human rights.
Ruling against Russia, the court found that “the ban on holding LGBT public assemblies… did not correspond to a pressing social need and was thus not necessary in a democratic society.”
Last August, there was international uproar when a 16 year old boy was found guilty under the gay propaganda law for posting pictures online.
In October, he had his sentence overturned after his case was reviewed and it was decided that there was not enough evidence.