Updated: St Petersburg passes first “gay propaganda” law reading

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This story was updated on 23 November 2011 to clarify the legislation’s status.

The city of St Petersburg has passed the first reading of a law which puts in place fines for people who promote the LGBT community to minors.

The new law passed by 27 votes to 1, having been introduced by the ruling United Russia party. It requires two further readings to be enacted.

It introduces fines for “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, to minors” and “propaganda of paedophilia”.

Fines range from 1,000 roubles (£20) for an individual to 50,000 (£1,000) for a business.

Polina Savchenko, General manager of LGBT organization Coming Out, Russia told LGBT Asylum News while the bill was being discussed: “By combining homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality into one law with sexual crimes against minors, members of the Legislative Assembly indulge in gross manipulations of public opinion.

“Their goal – to pass an anti-democratic law, directed at severely limiting human rights in St. Petersburg.

She added: “Organizers of public events cannot restrict access of minors to any open area; people under 18 can be there just by chance. Consequently, it makes any public campaigns aimed at reducing xenophobia and hate crime prevention impossible.”

Two other local legislatures introduced similar laws this year.

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

Nikolai Alexeyev of GayRussia.ru told AP the law was a “disgrace”.

“It theoretically allows the ban of anything anywhere where kids could be present.”