American-Russian journalist Masha Gessen calls for St Petersburg boycott over ‘gay propaganda’ law
A Moscow-based journalist has today urged pop idol Madonna to cancel a concert in St Petersburg on 9 August because of the ‘homosexual propaganda’ law in the city which went into effect on Saturday.
Writing on the New York Times Latitude blog website, Masha Gessen, who holds dual American and Russian nationality and lives in Moscow, pleads with readers ‘not to visit’ St Petersburg which she describes as ‘one of the most beautiful cities on earth’.
‘I am especially asking you not to go if you are the singer Madonna, who is scheduled to play a concert there on 9 August,’ she writes.
‘And if you are Mercedes-Benz or PepsiCo, the two foreign companies that have signed on as partners of this year’s economic forum, scheduled to take place there 21 to 23 June, I am asking you to pull out.’
She also urges anyone who has been asked to participate in any of the many conferences and festivals that will take place in the city this summer to decline the invitation and for those considering a holiday there to ‘take your vacation somewhere else’.
The new law, which was reported internationally during the bill stages as it passed thought the city legislature, makes it an administrative offense to engage in ‘the propaganda of male homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism among minors’.
The law defines propaganda it as the intentional and unregulated distribution in a publicly accessible manner of information that can harm the health or the process of moral and spiritual development of minors, including forming among them the false perception that traditional and non-traditional relationships are socially equal, Gessen writes.
Also an offense under the law is the public display of affection among same-sex couples.
Fines range from up to 5,000 roubles ($172 €125) for individuals and up to 1 million roubles ($34,400 €25,000) for organisations.