Gay Law’s Author Rejects Criticism
Published: March 14, 2012 (Issue # 1699)
St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko signed into law a controversial bill against “promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism to minors” Sunday, drawing a new wave of criticism from around the globe.
On Monday, the Human Rights Watch described Poltavchenko’s failure to use his right of veto to stop this “deplorable” legislative initiative as “profoundly disappointing” and urged the prosecutor’s office of St. Petersburg to “use its authority to insist that the city Legislative Assembly annul the law.”
Criticism of the new law also came from the diplomatic quarters of St. Petersburg.
“I am concerned that this legislation does not match Council of Europe guidelines on preventing discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people (LGBT),” Gareth Ward, the U.K. Consul General, wrote in emailed comments this week.
“I hope that St. Petersburg remains an open and welcoming city for all, and that the important activities of Russian LGBT organizations to support gay people will be able to continue.”
The law will take effect on March 21, 10 days after its official publication.
The Legislative Assembly lawmaking committee chair, Vitaly Milonov, who authored the bill in November, dismissed the criticism.
Speaking by phone Tuesday, Milonov, a deputy for the United Russia party, said the bill was inspired by society’s demands, though he did not mention any specific incidents.
“If society believes that some model of behavior doesn’t correspond to society’s interests, then society reacts to it,” Milonov said.
“We will be very happy if this bill isn’t applied even once, because it’s not directed against somebody specifically or in regard of a specific case, but it does outline certain additional rules of behavior toward minors.”
Answering criticism from the LGBT rights organization Coming Out’s chair Igor Kochetkov, Milonov argued that the law would not be used against the media, which, he said, is regulated by federal law.
“It has nothing to do with Kochetkov, either — if, of course, he doesn’t go to a school and start talking about how wonderful it is to be a homosexual,” he said.
“[The law] will only affect children’s environments.”
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