Last edited: February 14, 2005

Russian Federation: Local Authorities Propose Police Surveillance of Homosexuals

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
Emergency Response Network, June 13, 1998
Action Alert

The Health Care Department in the Russian region of Astrakhan has submitted to the regional Parliament a proposal for monitoring so-called "risk groups," as part of an AIDS-HIV prevention project. The proposal would give local authorities expanded powers to invade the privacy and restrict the freedoms of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals.

"Immediate Precautions Against HIV Infection," submitted to the local parliament by Health Care Department Director V. Yushkov, includes numerous recommendations for action. Recommendation 6.2. calls on the regional Department of the Interior--responsible for the police and militia--to "commence cooperation with medical institutions for investigation and mutual information, as well as keeping records on persons from high risk groups (i.e., drug addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes, and others)." In addition, recommendation 6.4 calls on the Department of the Interior to "oblige directions in penal colonies, prisons, and pre-trial detention units to undertake prophylaxis and strict control ... over homosexual relations in penal institutions."

The first proposal not only identifies homosexuality with criminal behavior (despite the decriminalization of consensual same-sex relations throughout Russia in 1993) but mandates medical institutions to violate the confidentiality of sensitive medical information. Moreover, it would give the police--an institution which throughout the Russian Federation remains largely unreformed from its totalitarian past--unlimited power to practice surveillance and impose restrictions and harassment on vulnerable groups. It invites discrimination based on sexual orientation, which the United Nations Human Rights Committee has found to violate Article 2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also contravenes the right to privacy, which is protected by Article 17 of that Covenant, as well as by Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Under the guise of protecting public health, the law proposal would actually constitute a serious threat to it; targeting segments of the population which are already legally vulnerable and socially stigmatized, the regulations would render those groups still more rationally reluctant to seek treatment or even HIV testing.

The regulation affecting prisoners would have a similar effect within the confines of already-restrictive institutions. Vaguely and generally worded, it would give prison authorities new scope to punish and crack down on prisoners or groups of prisoners whom they dislike.

Local activists call for letters of protest to the regional authorities, calling on them to withdraw the proposal. Letters should stress the above points. They can be sent to:

Mr. A. P. Guzhvin
Head of the Astrakhan Regional Administration
Fax number 7 8512 229514

Mr. V. Yushkov
Head of the Regional Health Care Department
Fax number 7 8512 220607

Copies of the letters can be emailed to  


Sydney Levy
Research and Advocacy Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
1360 Mission St, Ste 200
San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone: +1-415-255-8680
Fax: +1-415-255-8662
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*The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission* is a non-profit humanitarian organization that monitors, documents, and mobilizes urgent responses to human rights violations against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, the transgendered, and people with HIV and AIDS worldwide.

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