Canada Warns Against Travel To Russia
In light of the widening campaign to repress LGBT people across Russia, Canada's Foreign Minister has warned gay citizens to be wary of travel there.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has told the House of Commons he is deeply concerned by the legislation, which he says runs counter to core Canadian values of freedom of speech, human rights and the rule of law. The warning comes after the governor of St. Petersburg signed a law that makes it a criminal offence to publicize acts of sodomy, bisexualism or lesbianism. The city says the law, which comes into effect Saturday, is designed to protect children. But gay rights groups see it as part of a backlash led by some politicians and the Russian Orthodox Church. St. Petersburg is the fourth Russian city to be enact such a law. Baird said Canada has lodged an official protest, as well as warning travellers. "Canada's ambassador has written to the Russian government to express our deep concern and, yes, we have at his request, put a travel advisory on our website," Baird said.The warning on Canada's government site now reads:
Homosexuality is legal, though some still strongly disapprove of it. Canadians are advised to avoid displaying affection in public, as homosexuals can be targets of violence. A law prohibiting public actions propagandizing homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transsexuality among minors, and prohibiting public actions propagandizing pedophilia, will come into effect in St. Petersburg on March 17th, 2012. Public actions (including dissemination of information, statements, displays or conspicuous behaviour) contradicting or appearing to contradict this law may lead to arrest, prosecution and the imposition of a fine. Similar laws are already in effect in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma.