Human Rights Watch slams Russian child assault charges
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has criticised Russia for opening a criminal probe into the alleged sexual assault of children who took part in a show where they asked a homosexual man questions about his life.
The videos on the “Real Talk” YouTube channel have reportedly featured interviews by under-14s with a transvestite, people of different ethnicities, a former porn actress and a female dwarf.
Russia’s “gay propaganda” law has previously been used to “stifle LGBT-friendly information”, the US-based rights group said.
“Now investigators are equating a talk show interview by children as ‘sexual assault of children’,” a crime punishable by up to 20 years in jail, HRW said. “This madness has to stop.”
The Real Talk channel showed several children meeting people with different life experiences with one of the videos being viewed 2 million times, according to the Russian media.
The Moscow authorities said this month they had opened a criminal case into “sexual assault of minors” in reference to a video featuring children asking a gay man about his life.
The 21-year-old said how and when he discovered he was homosexual. He also said he hoped to become a parent and described how other Russians treated him.
There was no discussion of sex or physical intimacy and the parents were in attendance, although not shown on the video.
The state broadcasting authority, Roskomnadzor, has blocked the video and the YouTube account has been deleted.
Valentina Dekhtyarenko of the Pravozashchity Otkrytki rights organisation said the children’s parents had made no complaints.
The mothers of at least two of the children involved had been threatened with the loss of parental rights, she told the media.
In September Piotr Tolstoi, vice-president of Russia’s Duma parliament, told broadcaster Russia-24 that he had informed the home-affairs ministry about the videos.
The 2013 “gay-propaganda” law has been criticised by Russian rights organisations and the European Court of Human Rights said it discriminated against the gay community.
The 2013 law bans the “promotion of non-traditional lifestyles to minors” and, in effect, outlaws lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activism.
A Russian court in October blocked two popular LGBT networking sites for promoting “anti-family values”.
Following anti-government protests during the summer, Mikhailov and Partners polled 1,057 10- to 18-year-old during September.
The study purportedly showed on LGBT issues that most Russian children were “tolerant” of the community, with 68 per cent saying they had “normal” views, with only 17 per cent saying they had “negative” views towards the community.
But just 13 per cent said they trusted sexual minorities.
A protest against Russia’s banning of Moscow Gay Pride 2011 outside the Russian Embassy in London. Picture credit: Flickr