Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Questions (20, 80)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

20. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will restate the position on the alarming increase in violence, discrimination and ill-sentiment against LGBT persons in the Russian Federation, particularly against young persons; if he has communicated this position directly to the Russian ambassador and, if so, if he will share any response he received; if he will indicate the specific measures he is prepared to take to ensure this matter is pursued with the Russian Government at EU and Council of Europe level, including any channels pursued by Irish delegates to last week's Council of Europe parliamentary plenary session on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41087/13]

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Patrick Nulty

Question:

80. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will specifically raise with the Russian Government the impact of the potentially homophobic legislation that was passed by the Russian Parliament; and the steps being taken to vindicate the human rights of gay persons in Russia and prevent homophobic violence. [41321/13]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 80 together.

I am very concerned over reports of a recent upsurge in violence and ill-will against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in the Russian Federation. In particular, I am aware of deeply disturbing footage which has been circulating on the internet purporting to show young LGBTI individuals being lured to a location only to be violently assaulted. Let me state quite clearly that any acts of violence directed against members of the LGBTI community in Russia, or anywhere else for that matter, are unacceptable and to be deplored.

As I reiterated to the Dáil last month, Ireland is firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. I have put on record our strong disagreement with recent Russian LGBTI-related legislation. As I said, such legislation, while purporting to protect young people, is more likely to result in the further stigmatisation and, indeed, criminalisation of LGBTI young people. My Department has made our position known to senior officials at the Russian Embassy in Ireland. I, myself, have not spoken to the Russian Ambassador but it is my intention to raise the matter at my next meeting with a Russian Minister.

In the meantime, I have asked officials in my Department to actively engage on this issue in various international fora and explore what avenues can most effectively be pursued in voicing our concerns, including with our partners in the EU. For example, with other like-minded partners, Ireland was instrumental in ensuring that the EU statement at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 17 September contained a strong reference to our serious concerns over Russian LGBTI legislation. The statement called on the Russian Federation to strive for greater inclusiveness and tolerance for minorities in Russian society.

Discussions continue within the EU on how best to ensure that our concerns are kept firmly on the agenda of the Union’s structured dialogue with Russia. That dialogue includes specific consultations on Human Rights with Russian officials, the next round of which should take place this autumn. Ireland will continue to participate actively in the EU’s preparations for these and other senior-level meetings with Russian representatives.

I presume the Deputy is referring to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers’ Deputies which met last week in Strasbourg. One of the cases on the Committee’s agenda was Alexseyev v The Russian Federation concerning the prohibition of the Moscow Pride Marches in 2006, 2007 and 2008. Ireland’s Permanent Representative to the Council of Europe intervened in the session to restate Ireland’s position and to note that respect for the rights and freedoms of LGBTI persons was now an accepted norm across Europe and that society had benefitted from this.