Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday morning to say that recent anti-LGBT legislation passed is "an affront to fundamental principles of equality."
Boxer — who chairs the subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that oversees human rights issues — also wrote that the new laws "contradict the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party."
The letter, a copy of which was provided to BuzzFeed, was sent to the Russian embassy on Friday.
"I cannot stay silent while your country works to put in place deeply discriminatory laws and policies undermining the rights of LGBT individuals," the California senator wrote.
Coming a day after the International Olympic Committee announced it had received "strong written reassurances" that no one at the Olympics, slated to take place in Sochi in February 2014, will face discrimination, Boxer also weighed in on that front — in the form of a warning to Russia.
Noting that she is "deeply concerned" about the impact of Russia's anti-LGBT propaganda law on the Olympics, she wrote: "Any attempt at discrimination will be met with significant protest and will leave a dark stain on Russia's international image for decades to come."
Read the full text of Sen. Boxer's Letter to President Putin:
August 23, 2013
The Honorable Vladimir Putin
Dear President Putin:
As the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee dedicated to the protection of human rights, I urge you to work to repeal recent laws and policies that severely infringe upon the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Russia. These efforts—including legislation you recently signed banning "homosexual propaganda"—are not only an affront to fundamental principles of equality, but also contradict the rights enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a party.
I support a strong United States-Russia bilateral relationship and believe we must work to strengthen this important relationship whenever possible. However, I cannot stay silent while your country works to put in place deeply discriminatory laws and policies undermining the rights of LGBT individuals, which have already had tangible and dangerous consequences. I have been shocked by images of Russian LGBT individuals—including young men and women—being harassed, threatened and severely beaten. If these laws and policies are not repealed, the consequences for human life and human dignity could get even worse.
Furthermore, I am deeply concerned about the significant detrimental impact of these laws on the Winter Olympic Games that Russia is scheduled to host next year. The United States—like many other countries—will be sending both LGBT athletes and spectators to the Games. I firmly expect Russia to support the Charter of the Olympic Games, which refers to sport as a human right that should be practiced without "discrimination of any kind." Any attempt at discrimination will be met with significant protest and will leave a dark stain on Russia's international image for decades to come.
I look forward to your favorable reply and action.
United States Senator
Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at email@example.com.
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