JUNIOR HEALTH MINISTER Alex White is unlikely to bring up Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws with any government officials while in Moscow.
White is due to meet with the country’s deputy health minister Dmitry Kostennikov today. When asked by TheJournal.ie if the junior minister would express his concerns about the law with his Russian counterpart, the Department of Health said that White would only be discussing “issues directly related to his portfolio”.
Yesterday White told the Russian LGBT Sport Federation that Ireland is “firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity”.
White made the comments while meeting the organisation, one of Russia’s six LGBTI groups, in Moscow yesterday morning.
The International Crisis Group and Amnesty International were also present at the meeting.
White told the sports group that Ireland views LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) rights as “a human rights priority and is firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity”.
Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law an Act that criminalises the dissemination of information about homosexuality to minors. The move cast a shadow over the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi and led to a number of protests against the law’s introduction, including one outside the Russian Embassy in Dublin.
“The Irish Government is on record as having expressed Ireland’s strong disagreement with the legislation that was adopted by the Russian Parliament in June 2013,” White said in a statement issued today.
“In our view, such legislation, while purporting to protect young people, is more likely to result in the further stigmatisation and, indeed, criminalisation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex young people.”
He added that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore “raised concerns over the Russian legislation at a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over lunch at the December EU Foreign Affairs Council”.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has come under fire from gay rights groups for marching in yesterday’s St Patrick’s Day parade in New York due to a ban on people carrying gay rights slogans in the parade.
White will return from Moscow today, having spent the last four days promoting Ireland in the Russian capital as part of the government’s St Patrick’s Day “Promote Ireland” programme.
Yesterday White also met with Irish business community representatives and attended two food promotion events. On Saturday he attended the 22nd annual St Patrick’s Day Parade in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park and the Emerald Ball, a charity event organised by the Irish Business Club.
He also visited a Tourism Ireland outdoor photographic exhibition in central Moscow. Approximately 20,000 Russians visited Ireland last year.
First published: 11.33 am.