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Russia delays national gay gag law indefinitely

Russia State Duma again postpones debate on law to ban ‘gay propaganda’ to minors across the country
Russia's State Duma has delayed an anti-gay propaganda law.

The Russian State Duma has postponed a nationwide ban on ‘gay propaganda’ indefinitely by returning the bill to the preparatory stage.

The legislation was originally due to be debated on 19 December last year but that was put off to today (22 January).

Since then, Russia has come under international pressure to drop the proposals.

Similar laws have already been introduced in the Russian regions of St Petersburg, Ryazan, Arkangelsk Kostroma, Magadansk, Samar, Bashkortostan, Krasnodar and Novosibirsk.

The bill was 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.

Today it was Sergey Mironov of the leftist Fair Russia faction who announced the bill’s delay to reporters after lawmakers apparently decided it needed further thought.

Russia Today reports Mironov was ‘perplexed’ by the delay in the legislation which is supported by 86% of Russians.

He said: ‘We are talking about the ban on propaganda. Do you remember how [the head of the parliamentary committee for family policy] Yelena Mizulina said that she had a feeling that someone was deliberately opposing all bills concerning this subject? Now we postponed it again, and it raises questions.’

The European Union has lead the opposition to the bill outside Russia and the EU’s LGBT Intergroup joined non-governmental organizations and other demonstrators outside the Russian embassy in Brussels to protest it.

Michael Cashman MEP, co-president of the LGBT Intergroup was present at the demonstration.

He said: ‘I’m proud that as many as 20 organizations and 70 people took part in today’s demonstration. It’s a vivid reminder that the fight for others’ human rights is our own fight, and together we can overcome intolerance and the inhumanity done to others.’

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, vice-president of the Intergroup, added: ‘I’m relieved today’s debate in the Duma was postponed, and I hope this is a sign that the Russian Federation takes its international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights seriously.’

‘Russian people, whether they are LGBT, feminists, political activists or anything else, all deserve freedom of speech. Vladimir Putin’s party should stop undermining itself by hitting – literally! – on minorities.’

The law, Bill 6.13.1, which would give fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500 €12,400) for those who ‘promote’ homosexuality to minors. It also covers pedophilia which is likened to homosexuality by the legislation.

Non-governmental organizations in Russia have claimed there as been an increase in anti-LGBT violence in the regions that have introduced similar laws.

The previous postponed debate on 19 December saw pro-gay protesters outside the State Duma pelted with eggs and pushed to the ground.

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