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Published on January 24, 2014

Association writes to President Putin to express concerns over law's expected impacts on scholarship


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                            21 January 2014

The Canadian Historical Association / La Société historique du Canada (CHA/SHC) has written to Russian President Vladimir Putin to express its deep concern regarding Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda” legislation (Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, passed by the Russian Parliament in 2013) and its inhibiting implications for scholarship in history, the humanities and social sciences. The CHA rejects the notion that publications addressing the status, rights, experience, and history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) people constitute “homosexual propaganda.” It condemns any efforts to curtail the civil liberties or human rights of LGBT people and other citizens through such laws, whether in Russia or any country.

Of particular concern is the legislation’s anticipated impact on scholarship in history, the humanities and social sciences. A systematic analysis of the legislation`s impacts, published in 2013 by the human rights organization Article 19, pointed out that the legislation tends to “perpetuate discriminatory practices and attitudes and silence those advocating for equality and LGBT rights while privileging their opponents." A recent decision by the Russian Constitutional Court in 2010 limiting the scope of “homosexual propaganda” gives further grounds for concern. As well, the restrictions on speech regarding “non-traditional relationships” have been interpreted by scholars to potentially place at risk any persons publishing books or articles on same-sex relationships or history. 

The CHA/SHC rejects the notion of appealing to "traditional values" as a justification for legislation denying the human rights of a minority. In this case, "tradition" appears to represent a historically inaccurate construction of human relationships as exclusively heterosexual. This assertion denies the actual diversity of present and past human experience. If state-sponsored homophobia is a tradition, then it is a tradition at odds with well-documented historical facts and human rights as prescribed by international law.

The Canadian Historical Association / La Société historique du Canada urges President Putin to ask the Russian Parliament to reconsider its anti-gay propaganda legislation and to repeal it as soon as possible as a first step in reaffirming the human rights of all LGBT people in Russia, and also to recognize the right of scholars of history to study the past in Russia free from political restrictions and from fear of coercion or intimidation.

Founded in 1922, the Canadian Historical Association / La Société historique du Canada (CHA/SCH) is a bilingual not-for-profit and charitable association devoted to fostering the scholarly study and communication of history in Canada. With 1,100 members, it is the largest of its kind in the country.

The Association seeks to encourage the integration of historical knowledge and perspectives in both the scholarly and public spheres, to ensure the accessibility of historical resources, and to defend the rights and freedoms of professional and emerging historians in the pursuit of historical inquiry.


Michel Duquet, Executive Director, / 613 233-7885, ext. 2

Lyle Dick, Past President, / 778 987-0932/ 604 801-6772  

Dominique Marshall, President, / 613 520-2600, ext.2846

Yves Frenette, Advocacy Chair,  


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