De Jong: recognise victims of Russian anti-homosexual legislation as refugees

10 October 2013

De Jong: recognise victims of Russian anti-homosexual legislation as refugees

At the request of SP Euro-MP Dennis De Jong and others, a debate took place in the European Parliament this morning on the persecution of the LGBT community in Russia. ‘Homosexuals in Russia are confronted daily with intimidation and violence,’ says De Jong. ‘Instead of dealing with this vigorously, the Russian government is passing legislation forbidding so-called homosexual propaganda. To date the EU’s reaction has been confined to fine words. I want now to see more effective measures, such as the recognition as refugees of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals who are forced to leave their own country as a result of violence. We could also suspend visa liberalisation with Russia: no gifts for human rights abusers.’

Dennis de JongIncrease numbers of LGBT people in Russia feel their safety and even their lives to be threatened. One after another, NGOs which stand up for their rights have faced repression from the authorities. ‘Of thirty applications to hold public meetings on the issue, twenty-eight were rejected. NGOs which accept money from abroad are seen as ‘spies’ and are threatened with being disbanded. This cannot go on. While the member states and the Commission continue to believe in dialogue with Putin, the situation only becomes worse. So it’s high time further steps were taken.’

Many Russian LGBT people see no future in their own country. ‘After the first hopes of improvement appeared – in the 1990s when homosexuality ceased to be a criminal offence – we are now faced with a situation in which things are growing more difficult by the day if you want to stay in Russia as an LBGT person,’ says De Jong. ‘You are literally not sure of staying alive. That’s why I want to see the member states adjust their asylum policies and agree that applications from Russian LGBT people will be treated as priorities and judged leniently. By doing this we will deal Russia a serious blow, sending a clear message that the Russian government is persecuting its own country’s population, making it possible to, for example in the Council of Europe, take further steps.’

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