Russia’s State Duma has postponed the first reading of a bill designed to fine people who ‘promote homosexuality’ to children.
The Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, was due to debate the law tomorrow (19 December). But it will now not be discussed until 22 January according to Russian International News Agency, RIA Novosti.
If it is passed, the new national law would punish the ‘promotion of homosexuality among minors’ with fines of up to 500,000 roubles ($16,000 €12,000). But it is not clear what legal definition ‘propaganda’ or indeed ‘homosexuality’ would have, meaning the law’s impact could be very wide.
The bill is being pushed at the Duma by the United Russia party of President Vladimir Putin, which has a majority there.
However Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, also of United Russia, indicated he wasn’t aware of his own party’s plans when he said legislation like that wasn’t needed.
He added: ‘Probably this issue does not concern too many people in the country, and it’s not discussed at all levels.’
The bill reflects ‘gay gag’ laws that have already been introduced in some Russian regions, most famously St Petersburg but also Ryazan, Arkangelsk Kostroma, Novosibirsk, Magadansk, Samar, Bashkortostan and Krasnodar.
The local laws, and the move to Russia-wide legislation, have been widely condemned, including by European and US officials and leading human rights organizations.