Justice Ministry advice says Latvia should not sign Istanbul convention

Latvia appears to be the only European Union member state likely to refuse to sign an international agreement designed to help protect women from domestic violence because to do so would make it hard to celebrate the achievements of freedom fighters - such is the opinion of a lawyer employed by the Justice Ministry to offer expert opinion on the subject.

The legal opinion provided by the Inga Kacevska firm of lawyers and signed by Baiba Rudevska in Strasbourg recommends that Latvia does not sign the Istanbul Convention against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence because to do so would conflict with statements made in the preamble to the Latvian constitution.

The convention might constitute discrimination against men, the opinion says but then goes further, embarking on a novel piece of reasoning.

"As the preamble clearly states that the Latvian nation pays tribute to its freedom fighters and mentions the victims of foreign powers...
the Latvian nation cannot accept that an international agreement contains a statement that Latvian men oppressed women and discriminated against women, and made it difficult for women to fully develop."

"If it were not for Latvian freedom fighters - who were mostly Latvian men - we would not now have our own country. We can not honor our freedom fighters while at the same time saying that they had at that time (historically) hampered women's full development and oppressed women," the document states.

The advice then veers into even more political as opposed to legal territory by adding:

"However, as we know, the communist regime was a direct product of Marxist ideology. Why then should the Latvian people now support and celebrate neo-Marxist ideologies - "gender" feminism - in the Latvian legal system and all walks of life?"

Among other objections the legal opinion then states the convention would be in contravention of Article 1 of the Latvian constitution by "forcing the entire population to be of one ideology - radical feminism." 

Predictably, such statements immediately raised considerable ire on social media.

Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs defended the document indirectly by saying on Twitter: "Anyone who does not express neoliberal views must be bad and be combated. Sweet dreams!"

The Council of Europe, which drafted the convention, has summary information about the document available HERE.

So far, 41 states have signed the convention - the most recent being the Czech Republic on May 2 - and 21 have fully ratified it.

Latvia is now the only European Union member state to have neither signed nor ratified the convention. 

Other nay-sayers among council of Europe member states are Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein and Moldova.

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