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LGBT Organizations and Human Rights Activists Gather in Archangel (North West Russia) in an Attempt to Stop the Passing of a Homophobic Law in the Region, 20 21 September, 2011.

Under the guise of "protecting morality" Archangel Regional Authorities are attempting to push through a homophobic law which will effectively prohibit any public activity of LGBT organizations. The law is in clear violation of both the Constitution of the Russian Federation as well as articles 10.1, 11.1 and 14 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Russia is again attempting to recriminalize homosexual people.

On 20 September, 2011 a roundtable: The Defense of Morality or a Violation of Human Rights? will take place. Human Rights activists and scientists will be among the participants, along with an invited audience of journalists. Alexander Dyatlov (United Russia Party), the architect of the project, has yet not confirmed his participation in the event, although invited.

Following the roundtable Side by Side LGBT Film Festival, on both evenings of the 20 and 21 September, 2011 will conduct screenings along with after-film discussions on issues relating to discrimination, homophobia and transphobia in Russia. The audience along with experts from the field of law, psychology and journalism will have the opportunity to discuss the unfolding situation in Archangel and raise issue concerning the regions openly homophobic stance and suggest strategies of fighting against human rights violations.

In July, 2010  when Side by Side attempted to hold openly the first LGBT film festival in the region met with strong opposition from both the authorities and religious orthodox right. Their combined efforts resulted in venues pulling out and forcing the festival to be held in semi-closed conditions. There is no grounding for this law and its introduction is purely an attempt to bring an end to the valuable work of LGBT organizations said festival organizers Manny de Guerre and Gulya Sultanova. As in any democratic society we are prepared to engage in dialogue with those who stand against and us address the full range of issues in a civilized manner.

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe issued a message of support and underlined the necessity that Russia as a member state of the Council of Europe: safeguard the possibility to receive and impart information on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity in the press, publications, oral and written statements, art and other media. Any discriminatory provision criminalising the dissemination and diffusion of factual information concerning sexual orientation and gender identity should be abolished.

The Commissioner and his office are following closely the developments in Archangel.

Among the supporters of Side by Sides work are:

LGBT Organization Rakurs
Russian LGBT Network
Norwegian Consulate
British Consulate
Swedish Consulate
Danish Institute of Culture

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