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Protest against Russia’s proposed ‘gay propaganda’ law turns violent

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
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MOSCOW — Militant Orthodox activists on Tuesday attacked members of Russia’s embattled gay community protesting against a planned law banning “gay propaganda.”

Russia’s Parliament is to consider a federal law that makes public events and dissemination of information on the LGBT community to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000. Lawmakers, officials and Russia’s dominant Orthodox church have hailed the law, saying it will boost Russia’s dwindling birth rates.

An Orthodox activist, right, reacts with a gay rights campaigner, during a protest outside of State Duma, Russian Parliament's lower chamber, in downtown Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. A federal law banning "homosexual propaganda" has been submitted to the Duma late last year and hailed by officials and Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

An Orthodox activist, right, reacts with a gay rights campaigner, during a protest outside of State Duma, Russian Parliament’s lower chamber, in downtown Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday.
AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

A dozen LGBT rights campaigners gathered Tuesday in front of the parliament building in Moscow to protest the law by kissing each other. But a similar number of young men interrupted the protest, assaulting the campaigners, taking away and tearing down their posters and shouting obscenities at them.

The bill is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to “Western liberalism,” and is similar to laws already on the books in St. Petersburg and a number of other Russian cities.

The measure has been submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament, which scheduled the the first of three hearings for today.

Those behind the bill said minors need to be protected from “homosexual propaganda” because they are unable to evaluate the information critically.

Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, but homophobia remains strong.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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