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St. Petersburg parliament temporarily postpones anti-gay law

Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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St. Petersburg’s parliament on Wednesday said it would review a controversial bill banning so-called “gay propaganda that targets children.”

The law — which has been slammed by critics as too discriminative — has been postponed in order to clarify its wording.

Vilatly Milonov told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that his measure was temporarily shelved until city lawmakers are able to agree on its “legal definitions.”

The bill, passed nearly unanimously in the first of the three readings needed to write it into law last Wednesday, effectively outlaws any gay pride events.

If adopted, it would allow authorities to impose fines of up to 50,000 rubles ($1,600) for “public activities promoting sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgender identity” as well as pedophilia among minors.

While the authorities argue the measures are necessary to safeguard children from the “rising popularity of sexual deviations,” rights groups have warned of the slide towards legitimizing fascism.

“The very concept of this bill is illegal, it cannot be defined to conform with legal norms,” Igor Kochetkov, head of the St. Petersburg LGBT group Coming Out, told RIA Novosti.

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Activists have also resented being slumped together with child sex offenders.

“Pedophiles are criminals,” campaigning journalist Yelena Kostyuchenko told RIA Novosti, dismissing the bill as “absolutely flawed.”

Two regions of Russia — Arkhangelsk and Ryazan — have previously passed a similar law, which have been deemed constitutional by Russian courts

According to a 2005 poll, 43.5% of Russians supported the re-criminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults.

The City of Moscow is reportedly considering a similar ‘gay propaganda’ law and there are reports of discussions about a federal Russian law.

Amnesty International has condemned the measure as a “thinly veiled attempt” to fuel discrimination against St. Petersburg’s gay community.

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