Russian deputy Prime Minister: A national “gay propaganda” law should be considered

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The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak has said he is in favour of St Petersburg’s pending “gay propaganda” law, and wants it considered at a national level, Interfax reports.

Kozak said the bill would punish “disgusting activity”.

The law, which has been introduced by the ruling United Russia Party and roundly condemned by the international community, including UK and US governments, would see people and organisations fined for the “promotion” of homosexuality.

It has already passed one initial reading and equates “lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” with “paedophilia”.

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

Speaking at a news conference in St Petersburg, Kozak backed the proposed law and said: “We should think about this topic on the federal level”.

Earlier this week, a senior official in the Russian government has said he was “perplexed” by a US statement condemning the bill.

Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, said the US State Department’s comments were “incorrect”.

The St Petersburg bill was passed by a vote of 37 to 1 on the first of its three readings.

The second reading, which had been scheduled for this week, was delayed until after elections taking place this weekend.

The bill, which would affect Russia’s second largest city, has drawn international attention to similar laws that have already been passed in less populous areas.

Human rights group GayRussia announced the UN Human Rights Committee’s secretariat will address the case of Irina Fedotova, who was arrested under similar law prohibiting “propaganda of homosexuality to minors” in Ryazan, a city of half a million people on the Oka River, western Russia.

The organisation says a successful challenge would be the first time that Russia has officially been defeated at the UN over a gay rights issue.

A UN decision would not be legally binding, and Nikolai Alexeyev, the founder of GayRussia, has urged the European Court of Human Rights to allow Nikolai Bayev, the group’s acting leader, to bring a case against Russia and challenge the constitutionality of the law in a way which would be binding.

This summer, Alexeyev was among 14 gay rights activists arrested in St Petersburg during a demonstration, charged with “illegal public protest”.