By Martin Banks - 21st February 2012
Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves
Sophie in ‘t Veld
MEPs have condemned Russia's legislation on gay rights which "discriminates against the freedom of expression".
The move comes ahead of Russia's keenly-awaited presidential elections on 4 March when Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, is widely expected to win a third term to the country's top job.
Ahead of the elections, parliament voted on a resolution in which it denounces Russian laws which forbid the public mention of homosexuality or gender identity to minors.
The resolution, which was drafted by five political groups in parliament, states that Russia is currently subject to several international human rights agreements, including the European convention on human rights and the international covenant on civil and political rights.
The parliament resolution goes on to "strongly condemn the adoption by the legislative assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation".
It is also highly critical of similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions of Russia.
Parliament further "calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity".
The resolution also calls on Catherine Ashton, the vice president of the commission and EU high representative, to "convey the EU's opposition to these laws".
Speaking after the resolution was adopted, S&D member Michael Cashman, deputy chair of parliament's intergroup on LGBT rights, said, "The starting point of these laws is that homosexuality is wrong but what is wrong is the promotion of intolerance and discrimination."
Further reaction came from Dutch deputy Sophie in ‘t Veld who said, "Tchaikovsky and Constantinovich must be rolling over in their graves.
"Such laws are simply unacceptable; 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."
She added, "And more than statements, these grave human rights abuses must have consequences for the EU-Russia relationship."