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On Tuesday evening two men assaulted a high ranking Dutch diplomat working in the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, in what has become a high-profile case of violence in a country where violence against LGBT people is picking up steam.

According to news reports, two men posing as electricians attacked the diplomat as he entered his Moscow apartment. They knocked him down, tied him up, and drew a heart with an arrow through it with the letters ‘LGBT’ on a mirror.

LGBT stands for lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people. This reference suggests the assault may have been in response to the Dutch government’s criticism of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law, which makes it illegal to express a positive opinion in public about homosexuality around children. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly criticized this discriminatory law.

2013 was designated as a year to celebrate the friendship between the Netherlands and Russia, but the year has been marred by incidents, like yesterday’s attack and the recent arrest of a Russian diplomat in the Netherlands. Relations between the two countries have soured. On Wednesday the Dutch prime-minister commented in the Dutch parliament on the attack and called it “very serious”. Meanwhile the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated it regrets the attack on the Dutch diplomat and announced Russian authorities will investigate the attack and aim to arrest the perpetrators.

Russian LGBT activists report a growing number of violent incidents against LGBT individuals after the anti-gay law came into effect. Although isolated investigations were launched, police largely fails to address the anti-LGBT violence. This law is not Russia’s only anti-gay legislation – recently, a law was adopted to prevent foreign gay couples from adopting Russian children. Additionally, unmarried people living in countries where same-sex marriage is legalized are not allowed to adopt Russian children. In the Russian Duma (parliament) a proposed law would strip gay parents raising children of their parental rights. This proposal is expected to be discussed in the plenary of the Duma early 2014.

Russia should repeal all its anti-gay laws and Russian government officials should stop singling out LGBT people and demonizing them.

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