BRUSSELS, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – The European Union appealed to Russia on Sunday not to introduce a law banning so-called “gay propaganda,” the EU said.
Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, intends to pass a law by the end of the current session (mid-July) banning dissemination of information among minors promoting homosexuality. Amendments will be made on May 26-27, after which a working group will compile the draft law along with representatives of civil society and gay rights activists.
“The EU called on Russia to refrain from adopting federal legislation on ‘homosexual propaganda,’ which it believed could increase discrimination and violence against LGBTI individuals,” the EU said in a statement on its website. The statement referred to the results of a meeting on May 17 in Brussels between Russian and EU diplomats on human rights issues.
The statement also said the “EU confirmed its intention to continue to follow closely developments affecting NGOs as a whole in the Russian Federation and expressed among others its concerns at the fining of election monitoring organisation Golos and at the charges brought against ADC Memorial in St Petersburg.”
Russia introduced a law last November requiring NGOs involved in political activity and receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents.” NGOs have complained that this terms is synonymous with spying in the eyes of the Russian public, and have refused to register as required.
Golos was the first to be fined; the organization said it was likely to have to close in consequence.
The new NGO law has already been used by prosecutors to open cases against NGOs engaged in apolitical activities including public health projects and wildlife conservation.
The Russian government insisted the law was vital to prevent foreign interference in Russia’s political life.