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Legislation in Russia aimed at enacting anti-gay law nationwide

MOSCOW — Legislation being pushed by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church would make it illegal nationwide to provide minors with information that is defined as “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism,” and includes a ban on holding public events that promote gay rights.

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

Other laws that the Kremlin says are intended to protect young Russians have been hastily adopted in recent months, including some that allow banning and blocking web content and print publications that are deemed “extremist” or unfit for young audiences.

Denis Volkov, a sociologist with the Levada Center, an independent pollster, says the anti-gay bill fits the “general logic” of a government intent on limiting various rights.

But in this case, the move has been met mostly with either indifference or open enthusiasm by average Russians.

Levada polls conducted last year show that almost two thirds of Russians find homosexuality “morally unacceptable and worth condemning.” About half are against gay rallies and same-sex marriage; almost a third think homosexuality is the result of “a sickness or a psychological trauma,” the Levada surveys show.

Russia’s widespread hostility to homosexuality is shared by the political and religious elite.

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Lawmakers have accused gays of decreasing Russia’s already low birth rates and said they should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled.

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

“This propaganda goes through the mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior,” the bill reads.

The bill has been submitted to Russia’s lower house of parliament for the first of three hearings Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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