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Russia Denies Existence of Discrimination against LGBT, but Promises to Investigate Attacks on Gay Nightclubs

13 November 2012

November 12th, Geneva – the UN Committee Against Torture heard the replies of the Russian Federation to questions raised by Committee experts on observance of human rights and implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in the country.

Last Friday, November 9th, Committee members raised several questions to the Russian Federation about the status of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people. Committee members pointed out cases of violence against LGBT people, including forced sterilization of transsexual people and persecution of human rights defenders who support LGBT, and asked about the measures that the authorities undertake to ensure observance of rights of LGBT people.

In response to the raised questions, on Monday, November 12th, Mr. Georgy Matyushkin, head of the Russian delegation, stated that ‘in the Russian Federation, discrimination is prosecuted under the Criminal and Administrative Codes. The Russian legislation does not contain any norms that would discriminate against persons, including, as Mr. Matyushkin emphasized, on grounds of sexual orientation.’

Nevertheless, the Committee was not satisfied with the response of the official delegation of the Russian Federation. Ms. Felice Gaer, Committee Rapporteur for the report of the Russian Federation, reiterated that there had been specific cases of attacks against vulnerable groups in Russia, for example, attacks on gay night clubs. She drew special attention of the authorities to the cases of the “7freedays” club in Moscow and “Parizhskaya zhizn” (Paris life) in Tyumen. Committee Rapporteur noted that discriminatory treatment only aggravates the situation and asked for explanations on the status of these cases and, what is very important in Ms. Gaer’s view, on the measures that are being carried out by the state to prevent similar cases from happening.

Member of the Russian delegation, Mr. Oleg Vereykin, Deputy Head of Department, Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation, officially confirmed that ‘indeed, on October 11th, two Moscow night clubs, where sexual minorities gather, were attacked… around 20 individuals participated in the acts. Three individuals, victims of the attacks, went to medical institutions for treatment.’ Mr. Vereykin further assured that ‘on October 18th, a criminal case was initiated on inflection of minor injury. The time period for issuing a decision is one month, and currently a special investigation is being conducted.’ Thus, the representative of the ministry of Interior suggested everyone to wait until the final decision is made.

The session of the UN Committee Against Torture will result in Conclusions and Recommendations to the Russian Federation, on implementation of which that country will have to report in four years. Recommendations are expected to be released in the last week of November.

Three Russian LGBT organizations, Russian LGBT Network, LGBT organization ‘Coming Out’, and Charitable Foundation ‘Rainbow’, presented a joint alternative report to the Committee Against Torture on cases of cruel treatment of homosexual, bisexual, and transgender people in Russia, as well as recommendations on addressing existing problems.