Russia has accused the European Union of the "aggressive propaganda of homosexual love" in order to force "an alien view of homosexuality" on all countries worldwide — while simultaneously slamming Germany for not doing enough to protect LGBT rights.
According to a Russian foreign ministry report on human rights in the EU, published Wednesday in Russian and a clumsy English translation, the EU's member states "consider, as one of their priorities, the dissemination of their neo-liberal values as a universal lifestyle for all other members of the international community.
"This is particularly evident in their aggressive promotion of the sexual minorities' rights," the report says. "Attempts have been made to enforce on other countries an alien view of homosexuality and same-sex marriages as a norm of life and some kind of a natural social phenomenon that deserves support at the state level." At one point, the English version of the report refers to gay people as "queers" — even though the Russian original refers to them as "people with non-traditional orientation."
In general, the report says, the EU is beset with "serious problems in the human rights sphere" that are getting worse and worse. Most of the report focuses on concerns regularly aired by international rights groups, such as the rise of neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitism, racial discrimination, violence against immigrants, freedom of speech, the rights of people with disabilities, and internet freedom. Since international groups save much harsher criticism for Russia, however, that leads the report to trip over its own labyrinthine rhetoric. At one point, the report accuses them of publishing "well-known scandalous puff pieces to improve the European Commission image" in the hope of receiving EU funding.
When the report discusses LGBT rights, it contradicts itself in the same paragraph. Immediately after accusing the EU of "the aggressive propaganda of homosexual love," the report goes on to slam Germany for not doing enough to prevent violence against LGBT people or to prevent the spread of HIV, (both of which have skyrocketed in Russia in the past year). "[It] would be wrong to believe that the Germany's legislation in this area is free from discrimination and its society is completely tolerant," the English version of the report says. "Facts show that cautious and negative attitudes towards members of the LGBT community, including homophobia, are widespread in the German society."
The report, which lists no authors, is the fourth Russia has issued since appointing an ombudsman, Konstantin Dolgov, in 2011 to criticize Western governments' human rights records (his official title is: the Russian foreign ministry's special representative for human rights, democracy and the rule of law). The reports draw heavily on material from organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, whom Russian officials have repeatedly criticized for acting in the interests of Western governments.
Russia has been increasingly reverting to "whataboutism," a Cold War-era tactic that would see Soviet propagandists respond to accusations of persecuting dissidents by accusing the U.S. of doing the same thing.
Max Seddon is a correspondent for BuzzFeed World based in Berlin. He has reported from Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and across the ex-Soviet Union and Europe. His secure PGP fingerprint is 6642 80FB 4059 E3F7 BEBE 94A5 242A E424 92E0 7B71
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