Dutch say Russian gay rights violation may warrant asylum
The Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wrote a letter to the Parliament stating that the violation of gay rights in Russia could be grounds for asylum in the Netherlands.
In his letter Timmermans claimed that the law negatively affects gay people and contributes to a climate of homophobia., adding that inhumane treatment or violation of the fundamental rights of the LGBT community could be grounds for asylum.
The recent detention of Greenpeace activists in Russia, including two Dutch, and the impounding of their Netherlands-registered vessel, are among the issues that have created tension between the two countries, as well as a series of incidents involving senior diplomats from each country who were beaten in their respective homes.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte assured that relations with President Putin and Russia are strong and have not been damaged.
An official state visit to mark 400 years of diplomatic ties is expected between Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima and President Putin on November 9.
The Russian anti-gay law has been criticized before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. During a recent visit to Amsterdam, Putin encountered activists holding a banner saying: “Putin, Go Home.”
The Netherlands is a liberal country that openly supports human rights. The controversy around the Russian anti-gay law has reached high levels of attention, and has triggered official statements about granting asylum to the LGBT community.
The Sochi games are giving international visibility to a political issue that has made the anti-gay law a matter of international debate. The Olympic games are no longer a matter of international sports competition, but also a forum for the rights of those who support alternative lifestyles.
Countries like the Netherlands are going public with their views about the Russian anti-gay law and this may damage their diplomatic relations with Russia.
President Putin’s popularity is being impacted beyond Russia, and with an international event taking place soon in his own country, it is hard to predict how much damage this will cause to his image there.