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Russian lawmakers consider bill prohibiting ‘gay propaganda’

Thursday, March 29, 2012
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MOSCOW — Russian lawmakers are considering a bill that would impose fines for spreading gay “propaganda” among minors, a measure that is similar to legislation adopted in February in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.

Critics say that while ostensibly targeting such actions as the distribution of pornography to children, the broad wording of the laws means they could be used to ban gay rights demonstrations.

Critics say that while ostensibly targeting such actions as the distribution of pornography to children, the broad wording of the laws means they could be used to ban gay rights demonstrations, reported Reuters.

It would impose fines of up to 5,000 roubles ($170) on individuals and up to 500,000 roubles ($17,000) on companies for spreading “propaganda of homosexualism” among minors, reported Reuters.

The legislation will complicate efforts by LGBT activists to organize gay pride events anywhere in the Russian Federation. Numerous attempts to hold gay rights demonstrations in Moscow and elsewhere have been either vetoed by officials or broken up by riot police and right-wing groups.

The bill was submitted a week after State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said that lawmakers will thoroughly study a draft federal law banning promotion of homosexuality among minors once it is submitted to the parliament.

Russian LGBT advocates condemned the federal Legislation to ban mention of or about homosexuality, and leading Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alexeyev, called on the State Duma deputies to await evaluation of similar laws passed in the Russian regions by the Committee on Human Rights of the UN as well as the European Court.

The Russian Orthodox Church has endorsed national legislation making the promotion of homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender practices among minors an administrative offense. Homosexuality was punishable by prison terms in the Soviet Union and was only decriminalized by President Boris Yeltsin in 1993, although discrimination against gay people remains widespread.

According to a 2010 survey by the independent Levada Center polling agency, 74 percent of respondents said gays and lesbians were “amoral” and “mentally defective,” while only 45 percent said they should enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

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