Tuesday

22nd Aug 2017

Russia repeats criticism of EU attitude on gay rights

  • Canadian rally: Putin's 'propaganda' law has attracted international disdain (Photo: [Rikki] Julius Reque)

The Russian foreign ministry has hit back at EU criticism on gay rights in Russia ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Brussels and the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Konstantin Dolgov, an official tasked with reporting on human rights, spent Wednesday and Thursday (23 January) in the EU capital promoting his annual study on civil liberties in Europe.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He met with MEPs on the human rights committee on Wednesday and held a press conference at Russia’s EU embassy the following day.

According to Reuters, he told media at the press briefing that: "If a skater is planning to come as a member of the Olympic team not to compete, but to fight against a law in the host country, it is very bad. It means that this particular skater does not respect Olympic principles.”

He also said in an interview with The Voice of Russia: “There is absolutely no discrimination of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans] community in Russia as such. There definitely are some incidents, but incidents happen everywhere.”

He complained that MEPs only gave him three minutes to speak at Wednesday’s hearing, while giving more time to people from NGOs, such as Russia’s Memorial and the US-based Human Rights Watch.

“I had to counter the widely and wildly, I would say, politicised views expressed by some representatives of the so-called Russian human rights community,” he added.

The report itself, a 153-page study, which Russia has published each year since 2011, says: “The European Union and its member states consider, as one of their priorities, the dissemination of their neo-liberal values as a universal lifestyle for all other members of the international community.”

It adds: “Attempts have been made to enforce on other countries an alien view of homosexuality and same-sex marriages as a norm of life and some kind of a natural social phenomenon.”

The official English translation also refers to “a liberal attitude towards queers,” itself using vocabulary considered offensive by LGBT people.

The push-back comes after Russia passed a new law banning gay rights “propaganda” in what rights campaigners say gives the state sweeping powers to arrest anybody promoting gay rights.

Putin has invested $50 billion in an effort for the Olympics - in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, starting on 7 February - to make Russia look good on the international stage.

But the gay propaganda law has prompted boycotts of the opening ceremony by some European leaders, including the German President, as well as highly publicised complaints by European and US pop stars and athletes.

The Russian leader has made matters worse by, in recent days, urging gay visitors to Sochi to stay away from children, linking homosexuality to paedophilia - a homophobic stereotype.

In another aspect of Russian diplomacy, Russian diplomats in Ukraine have distributed pamphlets in local schools saying that if Ukraine signs an EU association agreement, Ukrainian children will be given up for adoption by same-sex couples in Europe and sexually abused.

Putin is likely to face demonstrations by gay rights groups when he comes to the EU capital on Tuesday.

Top EU officials have also shortened the meeting, compared to previous events, and included a special brainstorming session on the future of EU-Russian relations in view of what they see as Russia’s interference in EU-Ukraine ties.

The Dolgov report also notes: “The most pressing human rights issues in the EU still include a steady growth of xenophobia, racism, violent nationalism, chauvinism and neo-Nazism.”

It links the trend to the economic crisis, but accuses the EU institutions of quietism, because they have not triggered EU treaty provisions to suspend allegedly abusive EU countries’ EU Council voting rights.

“As a result, all the words about the EU commitment to human values remain on paper only,” it says.

It makes similar accusations about EU officials’ response to US snooping, brought to light by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who is currently sheltering in Russia.

“All declarations of the October 2013 EU summit to receive the full explanation on this issue from the United States have not yet gone beyond rhetoric,” the paper notes.

Opinion

No good news from Moscow

There is room for EU co-operation with an increasingly authoritarian Russia, but let us end the pretence of "strategic partnership."

News in Brief

  1. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  2. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  3. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings
  4. Putin sends EU-blacklisted ambassador to US
  5. Austria has begun checks at Italian border
  6. Slovenian PM: Brexit talks will take longer than expected
  7. Merkel backs diesel while report warns of economic harm
  8. UK to publish new Brexit papers this week

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference