St. Petersburg conference on the protection of children from homophobia and transphobia

On May 31st - June 1st, 2013 a conference “Protecting Children from Homophobia and Transphobia” will be held in St. Petersburg by Parents’ Movement and Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality, supported by the Russian LGBT Network. The two-day conference will be dedicated to Children’s Day, which is observed on June 1st.

LGBT youth in Russia are now subjected to multiplied discrimination and twofold exclusion. The ‘homosexual propaganda’ ban, which is justified as a necessary measure for the protection of minors from harmful and excessive information, imply that LGBT people under 18 years old are non-existent, reinforcing and even encouraging the atmosphere of bullying and intolerance.

School psychologists and those who provide counseling at support centers for adolescents openly admit that, due to the risks of administrative penalties, they are afraid to provide counseling on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity to adolescents.

Given that there are no official programs aimed at promoting the acceptance of sexual and gender diversity in Russia, laws on the so-called ‘propaganda of homosexualism’ restrict access to the only remaining source of support on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity - non-governmental organizations, which may face fines for such activities.

In the work for the advancement of LGBT equality no one should be left behind, and now it is crucial to create a support system for LGBT youth.

The conference organizers seek to address closely the problem of teenage bullying and discrimination on grounds of real or perceived homosexuality. On May 31st, this issue will be discussed at a roundtable, which will bring together experts in the fields of child psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, as well as representatives of youth crisis centers and parent initiative groups, educators, and journalists.

Experts will form a working group that will develop recommendations for the protection of life, health, and the rights of children who suffered or may be subjected to homophobic bullying. These recommendations will be sent to relevant governmental authorities and public organizations.

On the second day of the conference there will be a by-invitation workshop for LGBT activists, parents of homosexual, bisexual and transgender teenagers, staff of youth crisis centers, psychologists, and educators. They will share their experience of mobilizing public support for young LGBT and their parents and will discuss new directions, methods, and forms of such work.

The Conference is made possible through support that the Russian LGBT Network enjoys from National Endowment for Democracy.