Thursday, February 6, 2014

UN Committee exceeds mandate in making recommendations to Russian Federation

The Russian Federation appeared before the Committee on the Rights of the Child on January 23rd and 24th for their combined 4th and 5th review of their level of compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The Russian delegation in presenting their 5-year review to the Committee on the Rights of the Child referred to the current demographic deficit in Russia, which has resulted in a fall in population of around 700,000 people
According to the report the total fertility rate sank as low 1.3 children per woman but with Government assistance has now climbed back to 1.7, which is still below the 2.1 replacement level. According to the report 1.4 million children were born in 2006 and this increased to 1.9 million in 2012.
A number of reports were submitted to the Committee by NGO’S complaining about the Russian laws protecting children from anti family propaganda.
One such report with the title Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and Problem of Children from Vulnerable Groups compiled as a result of collaborative efforts of three Russian organizations: Anti-discrimination Centre Memorial, regional St. Petersburg organization 'Coming Out' and Russian LGBT Network.
As was partially noted in reports on rights of children with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity, submitted to the Committee in 2013 by the Coming Out LGBT organization (hereinafter “Coming Out Report”) and Russian LGBT Network, a range of laws were adopted within the last two years in Russia which restrict the rights of LGBT people, LGBT families and LGBT rights advocates. These laws are as follows:
· Law prohibiting “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism among the underage” adopted in St.-Petersburg;
· Federal law prohibiting “propaganda of unconventional sexual relationship”30
· Law prohibiting adoption of Russian children by same sex couples from other countries;
There is no reference to any of these issues in the CRC nevertheless this committee once again exceeded its mandate by making recommendations that have no relevance to the Convention.
The Committee’s concluding observations were published on Feb 5th and contain the following recommendations at paragraphs 24, 25 and 55 and 56 c. 
24. The Committee is also concerned at the recent developments in the legislation of the State party prohibiting “propaganda of unconventional sexual relationship”, generally with the intent of protecting children, which however encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTI persons, including children, and children of LGBTI families. The Committee is particularly concerned that vague definitions of propaganda leads to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country’s LGBTI community, including abuse and violence, in particular against underage LGBTI rights activists.

25. The Committee recommends that the State party repeal its laws prohibiting propaganda of homosexuality and ensure that children who belong to LGBTI groups or children of LGBTI families are not subjected to any forms of discrimination by raising the awareness of the public on equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Adolescent health
55. The Committee is concerned at the high incidence of suicides and large numbers of drug and alcohol addiction among adolescents in the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the reports of coercive treatment of transsexual and homosexual persons, in particular children, and attempt to diagnose transsexuality as psychiatric disease as well as the lack of sexual health information for LGBTI children.

56 (c) Put an end to the coercive treatment of transsexual and homosexual persons, in particular children, and to attempts to diagnose transsexuality as psychiatric disease as well as provide LGBTI children with easy access to necessary sexual health information.