Russia has taken another step along the path of denying its lesbian and gay citizens equal rights by refusing to sign on to a historic G8 statement affirming these rights.

Last week, the G8 Foreign Ministers said that they “reaffirmed that human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all individuals, male and female, including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals.”

The statement, however, was marred by a footnote that read: “The Russian Federation disassociates itself from this language given the absence of any explicit definition or provision relating to such a group or such persons as separate rights holders under international human rights law.”

The statement was issued after a meeting in Washington between the G8 Foreign Ministers.

The Moscow Times reported that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov later told journalists that “we think it is unacceptable to use the protection of so-called sexual minorities as an excuse to aggressively promote a certain way of conduct and systems of values that could hurt the feelings of most of society and impose them on people.”

Official anti-gay sentiment in Russia has been on the increase in recent years. Moscow has repeatedly ignored a 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling and has continued to bar gay Pride events from taking place in the city since 2006.

Recently, the city of St. Petersburg’s ‘The Promotion of Homosexuality, Lesbianism, and Transgenderism to Minors’ law banned any Pride events or any “public activities promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgender identity” in the city.

Similar laws have been passed in Russia’s southern Astrakhan and central Ryazan and Kostroma regions.

There have been reports that Moscow may consider similar legislation while Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has said that he backs banning the “promotion of homosexuality” nationally.

Last month, a judge ruled that plans to host a gay ‘Pride House’ during the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi will undermine the security of the Russian state and lead to a reduction of the population.

The Group of Eight (G8) is composed of the governments of eight of the world’s largest economies: Canada; France; Germany; Italy; Japan; Russia; the United Kingdom; and the United States.

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