Latvian anti-gay activist elected to key position by Parliament

Posted on 23 Oct 2006 at 12:44am
By Laura Sheeter – BBC News

European gay rights activists condemn appointment of Smits as head of the country’s human rights committee



Janis Smits

A controversial anti-gay rights activist has been elected by the Latvian Parliament as head of the country’s human rights committee, according to reports published Wednesday by the BBC.

European gay rights activists have condemned the appointment.

Janis Smits, who is a member of Latvia’s First Party, is a leading figure speaking out against the activities of gay rights groups.

He has campaigned against the introduction of legislation to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of their sexual orientation, according to the report authored by Laura Sheeter of the BBC.

Smits has described homosexuality as a sin and gays and lesbians as degenerate.

In June he proposed that Latvia should cut references to sexual orientation from a bill banning discrimination, describing it as “the legalisation of sexual perversions.”

Smits’ appointment as the head of parliament’s human rights committee has been described as appalling by local human rights organizations.

Members of the European Parliament’s gay and lesbian rights group said that Latvian Members of Parliment had shown a blatant disregard of the candidate’s prior history of incitements to hatred and violence, and Amnesty International has said it will raise the issue of his appointment with the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Smits’ colleagues say he has pledged to uphold the rights of all sectors of society and that he will base his judgments not only on Latvian law but also on holy writ, which they say he holds to be a handbook of brotherly love.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, November 24, 2006.

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