The Australian Government has warned LGBTs about traveling to Russia because of the country’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda, but advises if people are covert about their sexuality they should be safe.
‘Laws banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships” to minors recently entered into force,’ the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade posted on its Smart Traveler website.
‘It is unclear exactly how these laws will be applied, but the effect is to make the “promotion” to minors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans relationships illegal in Russia. These laws may affect public expression and assemblies on such issues. A range of penalties apply, including deportation for foreigners.’
The Department of Foreign Affairs cautioned Australian travelers against taking part in LGBT pride or rights events while in Russia.
‘Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but many Russians are socially conservative,’ the Department advises.
‘Intolerance towards the LGBTI community is common, particularly beyond Moscow and St Petersburg. Violence against LGBTI people has been reported, but it is unlikely foreigners will be targeted unless they are engaged in political activism or are otherwise active in support of LGBTI rights. Public displays of affection by LGBTI people may attract disapproval.’
The Department also warned that Australians of non-European descent shout be concerned about racially motivated crime against them if they traveled to Russia.
‘Racially-motivated assaults continue to occur in Russia, particularly in Moscow and St Petersburg,’ the Department warns.
‘Attacks are often perpetrated by skinhead groups or ultra-nationalists. There have been several large rallies by nationalists and neo-Nazis to protest against the presence of foreigners … You should avoid any such rallies. If you are of Asian or African descent, you should take extra care.’
Yesterday GSN reported that Vitaly Milonov, one of the lawmakers behind the homosexual propaganda bill, had said the law would be enforced during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
This was despite assurances by the Russian Government to the International Olympic Committee that LGBT spectators and athletes traveling to the games would be exempt from the law.