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Assembly expert dismayed by violent disruption of Russian LGBT protests

Attacks on activists in Russia protesting against a proposed ‘anti-gay’ law have dismayed a key Parliamentary Assembly human rights expert.

“I was outraged to learn that a peaceful, authorised demonstration in support of freedom of expression and against a bill to prohibit so-called ‘homosexual propaganda’ was violently disrupted in the city of Voronezh in southwest Russia”, said Håkon Haugli, the assembly’s rapporteur on the rights of LGBT people.

“Human rights defenders had organised a protest against the draft bill but a violent crowd physically attacked them, preventing the demonstration from taking place. The next day, in Moscow, a small group of LGBT human rights defenders staging a protest against the draft bill in front of the Duma were also attacked.

“This draft bill is an attempt to curtail fundamental freedoms, on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. I call on Russian parliamentarians to seize the opportunity to stand up for the core values of the Council of Europe: human rights, democracy and the rule of all – for all.

“These and other aggressions are becoming increasingly common in a number of Council of Europe member states, often the same in which some politicians indulge in rhetoric against LGBT people and other minority groups. There is a link between verbal and physical violence. This is why politicians have a particular responsibility not only to refrain from inflammatory discourse but also to promote respect and a human rights culture, with their own words and actions.

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