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Human rights ombudsman suggests boycotts of Olympics infringement by itself

August 12, 2013, 19:01 UTC+3
Russian Interior Ministry сonfirms LGBT representatives to have no problems with police during Sochi 2014
1 pages in this article
Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexey Nikolski

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Alexey Nikolski

MOSCOW, August 12 (Itar-Tass) - Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin advised sexual minorities to contact him if their rights are violated rather than to call for boycotting Sochi Olympics.

He described the comparison of the latest law prohibiting homosexual propaganda among minors with the genocide of the Jews as “appalling ignorance.”

“Calls to boycott the Olympic Games and therefore Paralympic Games bring about the feeling of deep surprise and rejection,” Lukin said. “Those who say that the situation of the LGBT minority reminds them of Germany of the 1930s show either appalling ignorance (as I am a historian and know quite well what it was like there back then - people of this kind were slain) or appalling prejudice,” Lukin said.

He noted that “we have the history of Games boycotts” and “we know that this did no good.” Over the ten years of his work as ombudsman he can recall only a handful of complaints about violations of LGBT rights. “When such complaints were filed we studied them most thoroughly,” he added.

“Naturally, as ombudsman, I will respond to such complaints before, during and after the Games, which is very important, guided by the constitutional principle that these people, just like all others, have the same civil rights,” Lukin said. “If there are violations, I simply advise these people to contact us and we will deal with those who have violated their rights.”

He also stressed that a boycott by itself is an infringement upon one’s rights to some extent, in this case upon the rights of Paralympic athletes. “This minority deserves no less respect than any other minority. So should we upset their hopes and aspirations? This would be absolutely wrong and absolutely counterproductive,” he said.

Lukin does not rule out that the proposed boycott may have a political tinge. “Whenever a major event happens, there are political temptations and I do not rule out that some political forces are trying to exert pressure. This happened before and this happens all the time. We should take this calmly,” he said.

Speaking about the rights of sexual minorities in Russia in general, Lukin expressed conviction that “there is nothing extraordinary” happening. “Naturally, they have complaints that sometimes they are not allowed to organise mass rallies and demonstrations. This is a serious issue for discussion because on the one hand as citizens of our country they have the right to rally but on the other hand there is a serious question: at what point the struggle for one’s real rights - the right to work, the right education, the right to ‘cultural’ leisure, so to speak - turns into advertising for this orientation,” Lukin said.

Speaking of the calls for boycott, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak earlier expressed hope that “this will never occur in the history of Olympic Games again.”

“Each adult should make up his mind about his sexual orientation. Our draft law, which has been supported by all parliamentary parties, is not directed against non-traditional sexual relations as a phenomenon but aims to protect children and teenagers from the promotion of such relations,” Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak said.

“We are trying to protect children who cannot objectively assess information being imposed because of their early age but such information can damage their minds and impart a distorted concept of relations between people,” he said.

The law submitted by Novosibirsk Region’s Legislative Assembly punished homosexual propaganda by imposing fines of 4,000-5,000 roubles for individuals, 40,000-50,000 for officials, and 400,000-500,000 roubles for legal entities.

At the same time, the accompanying note says that administrative penalties will be charged not for the homosexual orientation of a person but for advertising homosexuality among children.

The Russian Interior Ministry сonfirmed LGBT minorities would have no problems with the police either during the Olympic Games in Sochi or at any other time if they do not break the law prohibiting homosexual propaganda.

“The law has entered into force and become effective in Russia. During the Olympic Games and at any other time law enforcers will act in accordance with Russian legislation in general and the law on the protection of children from the propaganda of untraditional sexual relations in particular. This regulatory act applies to persons seeking to incite minors to enter into an untraditional sexual relationship. Law enforcement agencies will take measures against such persons in accordance with Russian legislation,” the Interior Ministry said on Monday, August 12.

“Law enforcement agencies will have no questions to persons of untraditional sexual orientation who do not commit such actions and do not organise provocations,” it added.

The ministry made it clear that “speculations about violations of the rights of people of untraditional sexual orientation, hindrances preventing them from participating in the Olympic Games or discrimination against athletes and guests of the Olympic Games because of their sexual orientation are absolutely farfetched and groundless. We regard them as an attempt to undermine faith in the upcoming Olympics in Sochi.”

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak said he had received official clarifications from law enforcement agencies and the Justice Ministry regarding the application of this law and said would be no infringements upon the rights of sexual minorities before, during or after the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

“There will be no infringements based on sexual orientation during the Olympic Games, before or after them. They are not allowed by law,” he said.

“No one should have any concerns, people can live their own private lives and disseminate their advantages and attractiveness among adults. The main point is to stay away from children,” Kozak said.

He noted that if such propaganda targets children, then “this is an administrative offence” that is penalised by a fine of about 4,000 roubles.

Kozak also believes that the calls to boycott the Olympics following the adoption of the Russian law that bans propaganda of homosexual relations among minors were “merely private opinions.”

He expressed hope that “this will never occur in the history of Olympic Games again.”

“Each adult should make up his mind about his sexual orientation. Our draft law, which has been supported by all parliamentary parties, is not directed against non-traditional sexual relations as a phenomenon but aims to protect children and teenagers from the promotion of such relations,” Deputy Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak said earlier.

“We are trying to protect children who cannot objectively assess information being imposed because of their early age but such information can damage their minds and impart a distorted concept of relations between people,” he said.

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