UN panel: Russia should annul gay 'propaganda' law

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GENEVA (AP) — A U.N. committee on children's rights urged Russia on Wednesday to repeal its law banning pro-gay "propaganda" that could be accessible to minors, arguing that the legislation encourages discrimination and even violence.

The law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, has been in the spotlight as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympics, starting in Sochi this week. It is viewed by activists as forbidding almost any public expression of gay-rights sentiment.

The United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child noted that the stated intent of the law is to protect children but said it "encourages stigmatization of and discrimination against" gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, including children.

The panel said it is "particularly concerned that vague definitions of propaganda leads to the targeting and ongoing persecution of the country's (gay) community, including abuse and violence, in particular against underage ... rights activists."

Russia should ensure that such activists don't face discrimination by "raising the awareness of the public on equality and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity," it added.

The committee was delivering its conclusions on a report by Russia on its implementation of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The report was submitted before the legislation was drafted and didn't mention the new law.

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