Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, A/HRC/23/34/Add.1, 11 March 2013: Russian Federation
IV. Cultural rights: good practices and challenges
36. The Special Rapporteur visited the Youth Centre for Theatre and Cinema, supported by the Saint Petersburg authorities and the Federal Ministry of Culture. This interesting institution enables young artists to run their own theatre, with about 200 actors and 25 directors. On the occasion of festivals on human rights, the theatre has organized events and discussions on, inter alia, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual issues.
C. Situation of specific categories of the population
3. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
101. The identity of individuals is always multi-faceted, and this includes gender identity. During her visit, the Special Rapporteur was informed that it is increasingly difficult for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the Russian Federation to use cultural spaces such as film festivals and other events to explore and express that part of their identity safely.
102. In recent years, in several cities, groups trying to organize festivals to offer a space of interaction between LGBT and others and to promote tolerance and human rights through art and culture have faced great difficulties, including threats and violence (for example, the International Queer Culture Festival in Saint Petersburg, and the Side by Side LGBT international film festival, in Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Tomsk and Arkhangelsk). Permissions for exhibitions and screenings have been revoked, allegedly under the pressure of the administration, forcing groups to relocate to more obscure locations. The Special Rapporteur appreciates, however, that since 2008, the Saint Petersburg authorities have not interfered with the Side by Side festival and that, in 2012, it was held without any problem in Tomsk.
103. The Special Rapporteur is concerned that numerous statements in the media reportedly depict homosexuality as a mental disorder and call for the segregation of LGBT persons to prevent their participation in cultural life. The prevailing atmosphere is said to have an impact on the attitude of the private sector.
104. The Special Rapporteur is also concerned that the Saint Petersburg Law of 29 February 2012 prohibiting “propaganda of homosexuality” among minors, and apparently similar laws in Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Kostroma, exacerbate this situation. Furthermore, similar laws are reported to be envisaged in other regions and at the federal level. The Government has stressed that these laws aim to prohibit the aggressive imposition of one group’s lifestyle and norms of behavior on children, and to protect the health and development of children. However, it is feared that, in practice, the laws will lead to eliminating any expression of LGBT identity and the dissemination of information or artistic creations addressing LGBT issues. It is also of concern that, by dealing with the two together, the laws confuse homosexuality with paedophilia.
V. Conclusions and recommendations
115. The Special Rapporteur encourages the Government to respect and protect the right of LGBT persons to express their identity safely, including through attending and organizing cultural events. She recommends that the Government and relevant regional authorities ensure that all legislation respects this right, and that they:
(a) Exercise due diligence and protect from violence and threats by others LGBT persons as well as organizers and audiences of LGBT events;
(b) Increase efforts to combat prejudice and hostility against LGBT persons.
Link to full text of the report: Report-SRCultural-Russian Federation-2013-eng
- 35. See RIA Novosti, “St. Petersburg Approves Fines for ‘Gay Promotion’”, 8 February 2012 (available from http://en.rian.ru/society/20120208/171215909.html); ILGA-Europe, Statement on St Petersburg’s ‘propaganda’ law adopted in 2nd reading, 8 February 2012 (available from www.ilga-europe.org/home/guide/country_by_country/russia/ilga_europe_s_statement_on_st_petersburg_s_propaganda_law_adopted_today_in_2nd_reading); and “St. Petersburg enacts limits on gays”, Moscow Times, 1 March 2012 (available from www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/st-petersburg-enacts-limits-on-gays/453877.html).↵