St Petersburg ‘gay propaganda’ law could become nationwide Russian policy

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Earlier this month, the governor of St Petersburg signed into law a bill making it an offence to “promote” gay or transgender personal identities in the city. Now, lawmakers in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk have proposed that Russia introduces the legislation nationwide.

The bill recommends imposing a fine of up to 5,000 roubles (approximately £110) for individuals who are found guilty of “promoting homosexuality” among minors. The fine increases tenfold for state officials and businesses would be forced to pay a hundred times the amount for the same offence.

In documents pertaining to the bill, the Novosibirsk legislators claim that homosexual propaganda is rife in Russia, being propagated via mass media and public events that “present homosexuality as normal behavior”. The lawmakers say they believe such practice is dangerous for children and young people who don’t have the sophisticated or fully-developed critical faculties for perceiving the “avalanche of information” that inundates them daily. They concluded that the family and motherhood, as well as the interests of minors, require state protection.

At the same time, the authors of the proposed bill claim that their initiative is not putting a rein on homosexuality as such, but merely recommending punishment for circulating such “propaganda” among minors and negatively affecting their spiritual and moral development.

State Duma chairman Sergey Naryshkin declared last week that the proposed legislation for a ban on “gay propaganda” would be thoroughly considered by MPs once submitted. Duma Deputy Vyacheslav Lysakov told reporters that he considered the bill “positive” and would support it.

The bill adopted in St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, brought a wave of protest from the country’s LGBT community. One gay activist has even sued a politician behind the bill, claiming he has inflicted damage to his honor and dignity, and demanding a million roubles (approx £21,300) in compensation.

Russia’s LGBT community have announced plans to hold pickets outside schools and kindergartens in protest at the proposed legislation. However, the authorities and the Russian Orthodox Church have warned against such actions, calling them “extremely provocative and dangerous”.