St Petersburg anti-gay law passes second reading

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Last year, over 250,000 people signed a petition calling on the Russian city of St Petersburg to abandon its ‘gay propaganda’ law.

But reports say the city legislature has now approved the delayed second reading of the bill 31 to 6 and reportedly increased fines tenfold.

St Petersburg would join other Russian regions including Ryazan and Arkhangelsk in hindering the promotion of homosexuality in public.

The region of Kostroma recently approved a similar law and Moscow is rumoured to be considering such a move.

Russian activist Nikolay Alekseev was fined by the authorities in Arkhangelsk this week under that region’s rules forbidding the public “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.

Russia’s second largest city came under international condemnation last year for plans which would “silence” the gay community, and to treat the offence of public promotion of being gay in the same was as it punishes the promotion of paedophilia.

263,000 people have now signed All Out’s petition against the city law, a petition which drew attention to similar laws in other regions of the world’s largest country.

A second reading of the bill was indefinitely postponed in November 2011 but has now gone ahead, passing with overwhelming support.

Ria Novosti reports that the law now makes the offence punishable by fines of up to 500,000 roubles, ten times the amount tabled in November.

After a third and final reading, the bill would be signed into law by the city’s governor.

In November, Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law, said he was “perplexed” by a US statement condemning the proposed law.

He said the US State Department’s comments were “incorrect”.

Interfax reported him as saying: “We are perplexed by the American side’s attempts to interfere in the legislative process in Russia, especially publicly.

“We consider these attempts inappropriate and inconsistent with the practice of interstate relations.”

The UK’s Foreign Office had described the draft law as “wrong” and “mistaken”.