By Cathy Kristofferson, June 10, 2013
Update 6/30: President Putin today signed this bill into law. Proponents argue it is for the protection of children, but critics still allege it part of a broad crackdown on Russia’s LGBT community. For his part Mr. Putin tells international critics “We ask you not to interfere in our governance.”
In Russia today the lower house of the State Duma passed on its second and third readings a bill that bans anyone engaged in “propaganda of non-traditional sexual orientation” by a unanimous vote without comment. The bill had passed its first reading back in January 390 to 1. That 1 vote against is likely the abstention in today’s votes allowing for the unanimous label. Russian citizens who violate the law will be fined and foreigners will be arrested and immediately deported. The bill needs to be approved by the upper house and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin, but neither is in doubt. Nor is the fact that the law will be in effect within the month.
Outside the parliament today, a ‘kissing protest’ was held by gay activists awaiting the final vote. More than 2 dozen protesters were detained. Reuters reported:
Gay protesters were far outnumbered by around 200 anti-gay activists who surrounded them, chanting “Russia is not Sodom”, singing Orthodox Christian prayers and crossing themselves. They threw rotten eggs at the gay protesters.
Propaganda is defined by this bill as:
“spreading information aimed at forming non- traditional sexual behavior among children, suggesting this behavior is attractive, and making a false statement about the socially equal nature of traditional and non-traditional relationships”.
Lots of questions still surround the definition. Services such as counselling for gay teenagers, or safe-sex advice, will likely fall within the definition and be deemed illegal. Human Rights Watch on Monday said the bill would “infringe on Russian citizens’ freedom of expression and information, and discriminate against Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender LGBT community..”
Unanimous passage today will only heighten an already bad situation. There have been two brutal homophobic killings in the past few weeks already. It an unusual move, the Russian authorities admitted that crimes are linked to homophobia with investigators reporting anti-gay hate was the motive in both cases.
Last year, Russia banned Moscow’s Pride marches for 100 years. President Putin has threatened to stop the adoption of Russian children by those in Western countries where marriage equality is legal. That bill is expected to pass the Russian State Duma next week.
- Moscow Gay Rights Rally ends in violence and arrests (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Scott Lively poised to cause more anti-gay persecution | An odious letter to the Russian people (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
By Cathy Kristofferson, , @GE_MA_Lead