MEPs have slammed Russia for its anti-gay censorship laws on the eve a bill which bans the 'promotion of homosexuality' in St. Petersburg reaches its final stages.
Last Wednesday (8 February) politicians in the Russian city voted 31 in favour and six against the new anti-gay law, which will go before the Legislative Assembly in St. Petersburg for its the third and final reading.
If passed, it would prohibit the ‘promotion’ of so-called ‘sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism to minors’ and in doing so would prevent public discussion of LGBT issues, human rights work or any gay or trans events.
The bill looks highly likely to become law and has been criticized by the US State Department and a range of human rights organisations.
Now politicians in the European Parliament have joined international condemnation of the proposal.
Yesterday, gay MEP Michael Cashman made a speech critisizing the bill.
During the parliamentary session, he said the starting pointing of the law 'is that homosexuality was wrong'.
He said: 'I would maintain that what is wrong is the promotion of intolerance and discrimination. Precisely what these oppressive laws set out to achieve.'
Cashman added: 'What does the promotion of homosexuality mean? It is wide enough to censor anyone who dares speak for those who have no voice.
'That is why the EU should make the highest possible representation to Russia to speak out in defence of these fundamental human rights.'
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, vice-president of the LGBT Intergroup, echoed former actor turned politician's statement, blasting Russia's laws as 'unacceptable'.
''Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves,' she said.
'If Russia isn’t serious about respecting the European Convention on Human Rights, it should simply call the bluff and leave the Council of Europe altogether.
'And more than statements, these grave human rights abuses must have consequences for the EU-Russia relationship.'
The Russian states of Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Kostroma have already adopted similar anti-gay laws.
The European Parliament will adopt a resolution on the political situation in Russia on Thursday (16 February).