Edinburgh’s Lord Provost is under severe pressure by major lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organizations regarding the use of the city’s “twinning arrangement” with St Petersburg. Amnesty International Scotland, Equality Network, Scottish Youth Parliament, and NUS Scotland LGBT have warned that if enacted, the law would allow authorities to impose fines for “public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”
If enacted, LGBTI groups would be prohibited anywhere children might be present.
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.”
Amnesty International’s Program Director in Scotland, Shabnum Mustapha, 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.”
Mustapha added, “To seek to ‘legitimize’ this discrimination and oppression of the LGBTI community through legislation is appalling. Under the worrying new law, the publication of anything relating to LGBTI rights or providing assistance or advice – including informative leaflets as well as publications in the media and on the internet – would also be severely curtailed.”
Nathan Sparkling, NUS Scotland’s LGBT Officer, said, “Legislation such as this will only further marginalize LGBTI people and must be stopped – in St Petersburg and throughout Russia. The notion that Russia’s youth are somehow being converted through ‘propaganda’ would be laughable if the repercussions weren’t so dangerous. ”
Local LGBTI rights activists have blasted the law, saying it will provide legal cover for banning any of their actions, including the distribution of information leaflets or even actions against homophobia.
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.”