National anti-gay bill submitted to Russian parliament

Proposed law calls for fines of up to half a million rubles for 'spreading homosexual propaganda'

National anti-gay bill submitted to Russian parliament
29 March 2012

An anti-gay 'propaganda' bill, similar to the one passed in St Petersburg, has been submitted to the Russian parliament.

The proposed law calls for fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500 €12,400) for 'spreading homosexual propaganda' among minors.

Lawmakers from the Novosibirsk region submitted the legislation to the State Duma today (29 March) and is similar to the law passed in St Petersburg earlier this month.

If passed, it would gag gay and transgender people nationwide, potentially banning public discussion of LGBT issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.

However, gay Moscow activist Nikolai Alekseev says if the bill is passed it will be difficult to implement on a national level.

'The law in different regions is being applied in different ways,' Alekseev told Gay Star News.

'One of our strongest arguments against this federal law is that it will be applied in a very arbitrary way.

'They can interpret the law however they want but it’s only being applied to silence the LGBT community and deny the basic rights of freedom of expression.

'The main aim is to keep LGBT people out of the public domain and systematically deny them registration of their organizations and public events which would draw attention to the rights of homosexual people'

He adds that the law could also be applied to censoring entertainment and the arts, including literature by gay authors such as Oscar Wilde and pro-gay pop stars like Madonna, who has vowed to speak out against homophobic laws in Russia when she performs in the country this summer.

Alekseev told GSN that it could be some time before the bill is discussed in the Duma but said: 'We are asking them not to consider this bill before the UN Human Rights Committee gives its verdict on similar laws in other regions.

'That will give us the first evaluation of whether such laws passed in Russia are contradictory to the international obligations or not.'

The St Petersburg bill makes it an offense to engage in any 'propaganda' that could give minors 'the false perception that traditional and nontraditional relationships are socially equal.'

The Russian states of Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Kostroma have already adopted similar anti-gay laws.

The laws have been roundly condemned by Europe, the US State Department, human rights organizations and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners and individuals as well as their straight allies.

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