MOSCOW – A coalition of Russian lawmakers, representing members from United Russia Party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) and the Communist Party, on Friday submitted a proposal to amend the federal “anti-gay propaganda” law, expanding the measure to encompass sexual “propaganda” of any kind.Passed last year, the so-called “gay propaganda” law bans promotion of “non- traditional sexual relations” to minors. The amendment would effectively strip the term “non-traditional” from the law, banning the ban promotion of any sexual propaganda to underage children.
But, the law’s remaining provisions, including punishments that include up to 1 million ruble ($29,000) fines and 90 day suspensions for any organizations or groups which have been found to publicly promote homosexuality, would be left unchanged.
Similar changes would be made to other laws on the protection of children.
A leading Human Rights activist Innokenty Grekov called the amendment “good news” and “a major step in the right direction.”
But he also said that notes regarding the bill posted to the parliament’s webpage, cite a rise in sexual activity among Russian teens as the motivating factor for broadening the law’s scope, and that the amended law would “protect children from information damaging to the values of family life, the spiritual and intellectual development of minors.”
However, one Kremlin source told LGBTQ Nation on on Sunday saying that the only motivation to amend the current law is to appease global gay rights activists and their allies who have blasted the Russian government since the law’s passage last June, and who have called for boycotts of Russian goods and services, as well as a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi next month.
The source said the law has become a source of embarrassment and irritation for the Russian government, especially after several world leaders announced they will not be attending the Olympic games, including U.S. President Barack Obama, who is sending a delegation consisting of three openly gay athletes and relatively low ranked officials.
Meanwhile, Russian officials continue to defend the law.
“Speaking honestly, I have not seen a single appeal, even on the internet, from representatives of sexual minorities in which they say that their rights are being infringed upon,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour last week.
“And you understand that in this country, we have the full freedom of communication. … And I have never met a single application of the so-called nontraditional sexual minorities communities, I mean, Russian, to the authorities, saying that their rights have been violated,” he said.
And in a recent press interview with western journalists, Russian President Vladimir Putin himself defended the law by equating gays with pedophiles and said Russia needs to “cleanse” itself of homosexuality if it wants to increase its birth rate.
He said the law was aimed at banning propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, suggesting that gays are more likely to abuse children.
“Population growth is vital for Russia’s development and anything that gets in the way of that we should clean up,” he said.
The Kremlin source said that the in all likelihood, attempts to amend the law would be met with fierce resistance from Parliamentarian conservatives and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church.