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St Petersburg Authorities Obliged to Justify Homophobic Law to Europe

Source: (info), 23/05/12

· St. Petersburg & Leningrad region  · Sexual minorities

The St Petersburg city government has been compelled to explain to the consuls of European countries the need for a newly adopted law banning the propaganda of homosexuality and paedophilia to minors.

Benedikt Haller, the General Consul of Germany in the Northern Capital, told Echo of Petersburg radio station that several European consuls had simultaneously appealed to City Hall for elucidation when this new law entered into force.

According to Haller, the adoption of this latest law has led many European tourists planning to travel to the city to turn to their embassies with concerns about their personal safety in Petersburg.

“In Germany and in other European countries people do not understand the need for this new law. We receive a lot of questions from tourists, and potential tourists, who would like to visit Petersburg. They are asking questions because the new law has created the impression that representatives of sexual minorities are banned from visiting Petersburg. Of course, we try to explain the situation as accurately as we can, but the new law has certainly had a negative impact on the image of St. Petersburg,” said the Consul.

It was only on 23 May that the consuls received an official response from the St. Petesburg government. It thereupon emerged that the city government had given explanations in response to the concerns of their foreign colleagues, Rosbalt reports.

“Not a single letter was left unanswered. The point was to clarify government policy in the Russian Federation, which is to protect children from factors that negatively impact on their physical, intellectual and spiritual development”, says a statement by the city’s committee on foreign relations.

Officials point out that the law which has caused such a stir “does not contradict federal law and does not affect the rights and freedoms of sexual minorities.”

“National laws in most democratic European countries are based on the fact that the family and childhood are under special state protection. Because of this, the family and childhood, in their traditional sense, which has been handed down from our ancestors, represent values of special importance which facilitate the continuity of generations and are necessary for the preservation and development of the nation,” the committee said.

The statement cites the views of the Constitutional Court of Russia and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the “impermissibility of discrimination through favouring the rights and interests of one social group without taking into account the rights and interests of other groups.”

The Consuls’ reactions to these remarks remain unknown.