Outcry prompts St Petersburg legislature to reconsider “gay propaganda” law

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St Petersburg lawmakers are reportedly reconsidering the provisions of a “gay propaganda” law which passed its first reading by 27 votes to 1 this week.

Vilatly Milonov, a member of the United Russia party who proposed the bill, told media: “We have decided to double-check all legal definitions related to this bill.”

The new law passed by 27 votes to 1, having been introduced by the ruling United Russia party.

It introduces fines for “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism, to minors” and “propaganda of paedophilia”, but the severity of these are now also being addressed.

There have been numerous demonstrations in St Petersburg against the law, and LGBT rights group AllOUt.org launched an emergency petition against the legislation, which had 165,000 signatories at the time of publication.

AllOut.org Co-founder Andre Banks said: “Because Russia is a powerful nation, the international community has stayed silent—not one major world leader has yet to speak out against this bill.

“That hasn’t stopped tens of thousands around the world from raising their voices and standing with the beleaguered LGBT community in Russia, who are being used as a political punching bag in the run up to elections.

“It’s time for the same world leaders who spoke up against the ‘Anti-Homosexuality’ bill in Uganda to speak out against this draconian law in Russia.”

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.”

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