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Swedish minister: Russia needs to reverse its anti-gay rights laws

Aug. 1, 2013 at 1:04 PM

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Swedish European Union Minister Birgitta Ohlsson says Sweden must take the lead in supporting rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Ohlsson, who was pelted with eggs last weekend while speaking at a pride event in Lithuania, said Sweden is a key player in developing and presenting a united front against Russia's anti-gay laws, the Swedish version of The Local reported Thursday.

"When it comes to countries like Russia I think it's so important to have a united front toward the negative messages that are coming from them, and Sweden is one of the key players in this dialogue," she told The Local as Sweden celebrated Stockholm Pride -- an annual LGBT weeklong celebration.

She said she was urging EU foreign affairs expert Catherine Ashton to join in a "very solid and firm position" on condemning Russia's politics concerning the LGBT community.

"Of course, we have the very horrifying anti-gay law that is repulsive and disgusting, going in the total wrong direction," Ohlsson said. "But then we have other laws that are also very severe for the Russian open civil society and that has to do with the laws concerning freedom of expression, freedom of assembly.

"Other countries are not holding up to the position as they should when it comes to human rights rule of law," she said.

"I think Russia is going in a total wrong direction, they're not respecting LGBT human rights," Ohlsson said. "What is key now is to have a very dedicated support to LGBT supporters and other human activists in the area and Sweden is definitely one of the key players in the EU."

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