Ambassadors and other diplomats from the United States and other Western democracies called on Russia to protect the rights of all its citizens, including sexual minorities, as the world marked Global Pride Day 2020 on June 27.
In a statement by representatives from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the diplomats said they 'affirm the inherent dignity of each individual as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and call upon the government of the Russian Federation to adhere to its stated commitment to protecting the rights of all citizens, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.'
They cited discrimination and violence against LGBTI communities around the world and condemned authorities turning 'a blind eye to the hate speech and hate crimes that are still prevalent in many countries.'
The joint statement on Pride Month 2020 was posted on the U.S. Embassy in Moscow's website and other places.
The British and U.S. embassies in the Russian capital both flew rainbow flags, drawing criticism from Russia as a violation of a controversial law pushed by President Vladimir Putin and his allies against the public promotion of 'nontraditional' lifestyles.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said when asked about the rainbow banners that 'any occurrence of propaganda of nontraditional sexual minorities in our country is prohibited by law.'
'This June, we celebrate Pride Month by applauding LGBTI activists and their allies, who are working to ensure that every individual, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, receives the full protection of the law. Human rights are universal. Everyone is entitled to their full enjoyment,' the Western diplomats' statement said.
Pride events on June 27 were severely curtailed in most places to avoid the risk of coronavirus infection but were going ahead in physical-distancing form in Berlin, Mexico City, New York City, and other major cities around the world.
A Russian media group linked to a close Putin associate produced an antigay political ad ahead of this week's ongoing Russian vote on constitutional amendments that, among other things, include a passage defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman to enshrine the country's ban on same-sex marriage in the constitution.
Aleksei Navalny, a popular opposition figure, tweeted that Russian officials appeared to 'have gone completely crazy' on the antigay theme.
The constitutional changes are headlined by an amendment that would open the door for the former KGB lieutenant colonel to remain in power until 2036.
With reporting by dpa
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