by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
The U.N. Human Rights Committee blasted Russia’s treatment of gay people Oct. 29, saying they face “systematic discrimination” by the government.
“The committee is concerned about acts of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, including reports of harassment by the police and incidents of people being assaulted or killed on account of their sexual orientation,” it wrote in its periodic review of the nation. “The committee notes with concern the systematic discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation in the State party (Russia), including hate speech and manifestations of intolerance and prejudice by public officials, religious leaders and in the media. The committee is also concerned about discrimination in employment, health care, education and other fields, as well as the infringement of the right to freedom of assembly and association and notes the absence of legislation that specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The committee urged Russia to pass a national law banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, launch a “sensitization campaign aimed at the general public … to combat discrimination against LGBT persons,” provide “appropriate training to law enforcement officials,” and “take all necessary measures to guarantee the exercise in practice of the right to peaceful association and assembly for the LGBT community.”
For the past four years, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has banned gay pride events and sent riot police to violently arrest small groups of activists who ignored the bans. He has called gay parades “satanic” and “weapons of mass destruction.”
A group of combined lawsuits over the bans should see a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights sometime in 2010.