Late last year, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a report assessing the state of human rights throughout the European Union. Its goal, according to its introduction, is to “free the European Union from serious problems in the human rights sphere,” including “xenophobia, racism, violent nationalism, chauvinism, and neo-Nazism.” LGBT people are mentioned a few times, but instead of expressing any concern for their human rights, the report discussed them only in the context of threatening the rights of those who disapprove of them.
According to an “unofficial translation” posted on the Ministry’s official Twitter page, the report chastises the EU for attempting to disseminate “neo-liberal values,” such as a “liberal attitude towards queers,” despite resistance from countries who do not support LGBT equality:
…Against this background, 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. This is particularly evident in their aggressive promotion of the sexual minorities’ rights. 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 that deserves support at the state level. Such an approach encounters resistance not only in the countries upholding traditional values, but also in those countries which have always taken a liberal attitude towards queers. Suffice it to recall the protest reaction of a major part of the French society to the decision on legalization of same-sex marriages in the country.
Later in the document, Russia suggests that Germany has no room to criticize its ban on “gay propaganda” because Germany has homophobia of its own:
Despite the aggressive propaganda of homosexual love within the European Union and fierce criticism of third countries for alleged violations of sexual minority rights, it would be wrong to believe that the Germany’s legislation in this area is free from discrimination and its society is completely tolerant. Facts show that cautious and negative attitudes towards members of the LGBT community, including homophobia, are widespread in the German society.
The report then ironically chastises Lithuania for not allowing a referendum on its own proposed ban on “gay propaganda.” It also claims that “Lithuanian Seima deputy Petras Gražulis was denied the right to express his opinion about the parade of sexual minorities in Vilnius in July 2013.” In reality, Gražulis was arrested among a group of other unruly protesters who intentionally tried to disrupt the parade in violation of police instructions. His case was actually dismissed just this week; he was found guilty and forced to pay a fine, but his legal immunity as a lawmaker spared him from serving jail time.
Lastly, the report revisits the passage of marriage equality and same-sex adoption in France. The Russian ministry attacks the French lawmakers for “rudely ignoring” the very vocal opposition to the provision, claiming that police used “disproportionate force” and “violently dispersed demonstrators.” The report also accuses French authorities of denying mayors their “freedom of conscience” by forcing them to solemnize same-sex marriages:
In May 2013 a law on legalization of the same-sex marriages and recognition of the right of the same-sex couples to adopt children was adopted in France. In the national human rights community opinion the Government of the country rudely ignored the point of view of many supporters of traditional family values who took part in unprecedented by the number of their participants (up to one million persons) protest rallies. In some cases the police violently dispersed demonstrators, used disproportionate force. The supporters of traditional marriages were often arrested just for wearing symbols embodying family (a man and woman image). Some arrested activists, in particular N.Bernard-Bussa, according to his fellows in arms, were put under psychological and physical pressure.
Contrary to the French Constitution and Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights the French authorities forced the city mayors to register same-sex marriages. In particular, on October 18, 2013, the Constitutional Council of France denied them the right to use the reservation “On freedom of conscience” by which they wanted to delegate their power to register such marriages to their deputies. According to the human rights activists this decision of the Constitutional Council violates the citizens’ rights.
The report undersells (and overinflates) the French rallies against marriage equality. Fueled by anti-gay talking points from U.S. conservative groups, French opponents of the bill challenged police barricades at organized rallies, engaged in vandalism, and threatened lawmakers as anti-gay violence surged throughout the country.
Russia passed a series of anti-gay laws in 2013 and has more on the legislative docket this year, including a bill that would disqualify gay individuals from custody of their own biological children. This report confirms that the country’s leaders see LGBT people as an obstacle to “human rights,” not a group deserving of human rights of their own.