Senator The Hon Bob Carr (Labor NSW) Official Portrait 16 March 2012Foreign Minister Bob Carr will raise Australia’s opposition to Russia’s “homosexual propaganda” law with President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Saint Petersburg.

Despite recently announcing LGBTI rights would be a “core foreign policy priority” for the government, Carr would not commit to publicly speaking out against the law while he is attending in place of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, due to the summit falling just days before the federal election

Condemned internationally, the law prevents discussion of non-heterosexual identities with minors, and effectively bans public displays of homosexuality.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Minister’s office told the Star Observer Carr would “take every opportunity” to raise the issue with President Putin, but said there were no plans for a bilateral discussion.

“Minister Bob Carr will not be having a bliateral with President Putin at the G-20, however, we have, are, and will continue to raise Australia’s opposition to Russia’s anti-gay laws,” a spokesperson said

The Foreign Minister’s office also re-stated the government’s commitment to LGBTI rights in foreign policy:

“Our Embassy in Moscow also continues to seek meetings with Russian officials to discuss this issue. LGBTI rights remain a foreign policy priority for the Rudd Government.”

The spokesperson also pointed to recent formal correspondence to the Russian government from the Australian Embassy in Moscow, expressing “deep concern” about the recent passage of the “homosexual propaganda” law.

The letter to the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights lays out Australia’s stated commitment to human rights and criticises the Russian government’s recent actions.

“We recognise that rights on sexual orientation and gender identity are difficult for some but Australia does not agree with inequality and discrimination against the LGBTI community,” the letter states.

“We would encourage the Government of the Russian Federation to undertake a public awareness campaign seeking to dispel the myths, prejudices and stereotypes associated with homosexuality.

“The legislation passed by the Duma and the Federation Council does nothing to dispel these myths… Under the guise of trying to protect children, the legislation seeks to dramatically curtail the rights of the LGBTI community.”

In response to the Australian Embassy’s letter LGBTI rights advocate Corey Irlam welcomed the move as an “appropriate first step”.

“Its pleasing to see that the Australian Ambassador has expressed Australia’s concerns to President Putin’s advisor on human rights,” Irlam told the Star Observer.

However, Irlam expressed concern with the fact Russian authorities seem largely uninterested in actively prosecuting offenders who have been reportedly bashing gay men and trans women then posting their crimes online in the wake of the “homosexual propaganda” law.

“I call on Foreign Minister Carr to raise these LGBTI bashings and Australia’s concern with the new Russian laws while at the G-20 in Russia on 5-6 September,” he said.

“It’s not good enough to simply say you’ve raised issues behind closed doors with President Putin and his advisors—Australian voters expect to see a public statement on Russian soil condemning these laws and the lack of investigation or prosecution of these horrific homophobic bashings.”

Foreign Minister Bob Carr will attend the G-20 summit in Saint Petersburg from September 5–6, ahead of the federal election on September 7.

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