The bill was first presented to the State Duma in January. Before it can become law, it must be passed by the Federation Council and signed by President Vladimir Putin.
“I am concerned that the bill, in practice, criminalises the provision of information about homosexuality and openness about gay relationships. It contributes to the marginalisation of sexual minorities in Russia, and in specific cases it may come into conflict with fundamental human rights. Human rights apply to all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Mr Eide.
Developments in Russia must be viewed in the context of the situation for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual community (LGBT) in Eastern Europe in general. Similar bills were presented in Lithuania in 2010 and in Ukraine in 2012. The Council of Europe has adopted clear recommendations to member states on measures to combat discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and on ensuring the freedom of association and of expression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and organisations.
“As a member of the Council of Europe, Russia has an obligation to respect sexual minorities. Norway has raised this issue directly with the Russian authorities and in meetings of the Council of Europe,” Mr Eide said.
Norway also provides financial support for strengthening the Council of Europe’s efforts to protect the rights of sexual minorities.