Russia’s State Duma, or parliament, is set to debate and vote on a law against ‘gay propaganda’ at 5pm Moscow time today (25 January).
The debate comes as news breaks that Kaliningrad region, with a population of almost a million, passed a similar law yesterday (24 January).
It’s the 10th Russian region to pass the law which forbids ‘homosexual propaganda’ to minors which it links to pedophilia.
Similar legislation already exists in St Petersburg, Ryazan, Arkangelsk, Kostroma, Magadansk, Samar, Bashkortostan, Krasnodar and Novosibirsk.
The Kaliningrad bill was drafted by regional United Russia Deputy Oleg Bolychev. It will fine individual offenders up to 5,000 rubles ($166 €124) and organizations up to 1million rubles ($33,000 €35,000).
The United Russia party, of President Vladimir Putin, is also promoting the bill in the State Duma, even though their Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, has said a federal bill is not needed.
Yury Garikov, a gay Russian campaigner, told Gay Star News that the United Russia party’s strategy was to push the law regionally before securing it at a federal level. The party holds a majority in the State Duma.
Garikov said it was in part a reaction to what some Russians see as the US government’s pro-gay agenda.
Relationships between the two countries have deteriorated since the US Congress passed the Magnitsky Act, a bi-partisan bill to punish Russian officials thought to be responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by banning them from the United States and its banking system.
Magnitsky died in a Moscow prison after investigating fraud involving Russian tax officials.
Garikov said: ‘They want to react politically. If Barack Obama and the government of the United States are for gay rights, they say we are not. They are creating two political poles.’
The debate on the matter in the State Duma has already been delayed twice. It was supposed to happen on 19 December and then was rescheduled for 22 January. At that point it was said to have been postponed ‘indefinitely’ but has now come back onto the agenda.
Nikolai Alekseev, of Gay Russia, said the outcome of today’s events in the State Duma is uncertain.
He told GSN: ‘They are supposed to vote at 5pm today. I have no idea if they are going to pass it on the first reading. I think they will try to delay it.’
Both the previously scheduled, albeit cancelled, debates on the bill have seen Russian gay activists attacked and pelted with eggs.
Meanwhile in Kaliningrad Oblast, the new bill now only needs the signature of Governor Nikolay Tsukanov to become law.