On the occasion of the 9th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth and the Youth Event taking place in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation, on 21-25 September 2012.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) welcomes the 9th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth held under the theme “Young people’s access to rights: development of innovative youth policies” in Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation. IGLYO recognises the particular importance of the international forum to discuss and highlight state of observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms of young people in the Council of Europe Member States. Given that the Ministerial Conference and preceding Youth Event are taking place in the Russian Federation, IGLYO would like to express its profound concern with regard to recent disturbing developments in the field of respect of fundamental human rights and freedoms that especially affect youth in this country.
For the past 12 months, IGLYO and the world have witnessed a number of grave and appalling human rights violations of young people perpetuated by Russian authorities at all levels that leave a clear message: Russian youth are severely restricted in their rights and freedoms and are discouraged to exercise their civil and political rights and duties recognised by a democratic society.
IGLYO is particularly outraged by continuous attacks on the rights to freedom of assembly and association, right to freedom of speech and opinion, right to fair trial and noncompliance with the principle of separation of church and state stipulated in Russia’s own Constitution, as well as by the prosecution of activists who overtly express criticism towards present political regime. Recent adoption and practical application of laws against so-called “propaganda of homosexuality” in many Russian regions, including Saint Petersburg, constant prohibition of LGBT public events by local authorities and judiciary, the Law on Non-commercial Organisations, the law prohibiting unauthorised demonstrations and severely punishing those who participate in them, the trial against and eventual condemnation of the three members of Pussy Riot punk band to a two-year imprisonment term showcase a serious breach of international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Russian Federation is signatory to.
In the light of these alarming developments in Russian Federation, and the official position of Russian Foreign Ministry which considers human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people as special rights, IGLYO urges:
– The Council of Europe to hold all of its members to account, including to guaranteeing equal rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity as recognised in the European Convention on Human Rights;
– The Russian Federation to repeal its homophobic and transphobic laws and policies;
– The Russian Federation to recognise its obligations under international law;
– The Ministers present in Saint Petersburg for the conference to highlight the grave human rights abuses perpetuated by the Russian Federation;
– Civil society organisations in the Russian Federation to continue to fight to secure the fundamental rights and freedoms that are threatened on a daily basis.