Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Russia: Homophobia and hate are ‘protected by law’

"Tolerance?! To hell! Faggots should be torn apart. And their pieces should be thrown in the wind."

["Толерантность?! К черту! Гомиков надо рвать. И по ветру бросать их куски!"]

Oleg Betin, the governor of Tambov region, Russia; interview to the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, 16 May 2008

Russian prosecutors did not see anything offensive or hateful in these remarks and refused to open the case. Moreover, they “concluded that homosexuals are not members of a particular social group against whom hatred can be incited”. Russian penal code outlaws “incitement of hatred and violence towards members of social groups”.

Not that I am surprised taking into account general increase in the threshold of tolerance against xenophobia, homophobia etc., as well as hate-induced crimes in Russia. But I wonder, where the place of gay people is in Russian law? Where do they fit? Under which category their rights should be protected? None, apparently. They do not exist for Russian law. And if those remarks by Russian governor are not hateful, what are they? Compliments???

That’s the reason why we need the law which specifically outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s the reason why I disagree with Armenian Ombudsman’s last year statement that in terms of law, rights of LGBT Armenians are protected under general anti-discrimination provisions of our Constitution, and there is no need in specific amendments.

Example above is from Russia, but we know very well that it won’t be surprising to hear similar remarks in Armenia too. We had similar sentiments articulated in less ‘expressive’ ways in past. We have to get protected now for future.

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