[JURIST] The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) [official website] on Wednesday urged the Russian government to repeal legislation banning the dissemination of homosexual “propaganda” to minors. Reports indicate that the CRC is specifically concerned [AP report] that the law’s broad definitions of “propaganda” will lead to persecution of the nation’s gay community, which includes younger gay rights activists. Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian] endorsed the law in June. The law imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles (USD $166) and creates the power to suspend legal entities for 90 days for citizens who disseminate information suggesting that homosexuality is “socially equivalent” to heterosexuality.
The UN has challenged the law before. Last February independent experts joined with UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression, human rights defense, cultural rights and the right to health to caution legislators [JURIST report] in the Russian State Duma that the law had the potential to subvert fundamental human rights to freedom of expression by specifically targeting and restricting the activity of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.” Experts portended that the law’s broad scope would lead to judicial constructions that “unduly restrict” and stigmatize the efforts of those advocating for LGBT rights in an already “difficult environment.” Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, specifically challenged the bill’s inclusion of children in asserting that broad constructions may extend to programs promoting sexual and reproductive health among the LGBT community and may prevent children from accessing information that could help to “safeguard” mental and physical health.