St Petersburg governor signs ‘gay propaganda’ bill into law

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St Petersburg’s governor has signed into law a bill making it an offence to ‘promote’ gay or transgender personal identities with commentators fearing how badly it will ‘encourage hate’ towards the city’s gay, bi and trans people.

The city now punished the promotion of such identities with a fine of 5,000 roubles, £107 or up to 50,000 roubles, £1,070 for holders of public posts. The fines are increased tenfold again for legal entities.

St Petersburg is one of four Russian cities to have introduced a law banning the promotion of gay and trans identities among minors.

Andre Banks, co-founder and executive director for said: “By validating a new regime of censorship and intolerance, Governor Poltavchenko has diminished the reputation of his city with the stroke of a pen.

“100,000 people have promised not to visit the “new” St. Petersburg after this law goes into effect. Travel companies are considering revising their scheduled trips to the city. St. Petersburg’s sister cities have even begun to put pressure on the Governor to reject this law.

“Together, we have sent a very clear message to Poltavchenko and leaders around the world: there will be a high price to pay for advancing the cause of bigotry and intolerance. continues to stand with our partners in Russia and will work through diplomatic channels, creative online campaigns and offline events to ensure that this law is repealed and that others like it never see the light of day.”

350,000 people have watched an video telling the governor St Petersburg will suffer as a result of the law.

Polina Savchenko, general manager for ComingOut, a St. Petersburg-based LGBT organization said: “Authorities project ‘traditional values’ and clerical rhetoric onto politics, and prioritize ‘interests of majority’ over the value of human individuality. We realize that today, fascist-like rhetoric in Russia is becoming basis for legislative activity.

“In fact, this law has little to do with protecting minors. Today, neither homosexual people, nor human rights defenders, nor lawyers can answer the question of how this law is going to be applied in practice, due to its vague nature and non-legal terminology.”

She said: “To talk about existence of homosexuality, to publicly denounce homophobic violence, to develop sense of self-awareness and dignity in homosexual people, to promote tolerance – all of these acts can fall under the ‘propaganda’ law. This law will serve directly to further isolate and marginalize the gay community and encourage hate towards a social group.

“We are convinced that no authority can deprive people of their right to dignity, to respect of private and family life, to freedom of expression and to protection from discrimination and violence. We are offended and outraged by this act by city authorities and will continue fighting for the rights of LGBT citizens until the barbaric law is repealed.”

The British Foreign Office had said it hoped the governor would reconsider the law.

The Kaleidoscope Trust was told by the British Foreign Office: “We, along with EU colleagues, have already expressed concern to the St Petersburg legislature and the Russian MFA, that this legislation is incompatible with Council of Europe guidelines on preventing discrimination against LGBT people.”

The European Parliament adopted a resolution in February on the Russian presidential elections, later won by Vladimir Putin, denouncing the regional laws which ban ‘gay propaganda’ around minors.

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