The lower house of Russia’s parliament (State Duma) has overwhelmingly passed a bill that bans so-called ‘propaganda’ of homosexuality.
The State Duma voted 434-0 with one abstention on today (11 June) to approve ban imposing hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about LGBT issues to minors.
The bill now needs, as a formality, to be approved by Russia’s appointed upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but this is expected to follow by the end of the this month.
The Russian LGBT Network stated the final version of the bill used the ambiguous term ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’, instead of ‘propaganda of homosexuality’.
It also defined propaganda ambiguously as a ‘distorted image of equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships.’
The adoption of this law by Russia would mean any person or organization mentioning sexual relationships considered as ‘non-traditional’ will be fined.
The law will endanger allows suspension of any organization’s activity and a fine up to 1 million rubles (US$ 30,790 â‚¬23,215) which, in practice, means LGBT organizations will find it impossible to operate.
Individuals breaching the law will carry a fine of up to 5,000 rubles (US$166 â‚¬124).
Foreigners will be punished more severely than Russian citizens, up to 15 days of imprisonment followed by deportation.
More than two dozen protesters were attacked by anti-gay activists and then detained by police, hours before the State Duma approved the Kremlin-backed legislation, reported the Associated Press.
Gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev and other protestors rallied outside the State Duma of what they describe as a ‘barbaric law’.
‘The State Duma is following a trend of the government trying to appeal to the illiterate, who are very homophobic,’ Alekseev told Gay Star News.
‘Russia is isolating itself by criminalizing homosexual relations. We have seen the tip of the iceberg.’
He added: ‘It cannot get worse. People are getting killed because they are gay. No one really cares in the government.’
Alekseev further stated that this law is an incitement to genocide against LGBT people in Russia and he will apply against Putin and authors of this bill this week to the International Court Tribunal at the Hague, Holland.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association of Europe (ILGA-Europe) slammed the move, stating: ‘ILGA-Europe appeals to international and European institutions not only to condemn this law, but to consider meaningful actions again Russia demanding to repeal this law and to stop state-sponsored homophobia in the country.’
Martin K.I. Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said: ‘This is a very sad day for the Russian LGBT community and for Russian democracy.
Today the Russian Parliament cemented its homophobic law at the federal level. Despite strong condemnation by virtually all international and European institutions and human rights organizations, …the Russian Duma demonstrated that homophobia is an official state policy.’
Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, continued: ‘We are deeply concerned by the negative impact of this law. Homophobic rhetoric which accompanied the adoption of this law at the regional and federal level for the last few years already significantly contributed toward a climate of hatred and physical violence against LGBT people which recently resulted in a number of murders.’