Russia: Initial hearing of anti-gay bill postponed a second time

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The Russian State Duma has indefinitely delayed the initial vote on a proposed homophobic censorship bill that has already sparked protests by LGBT campaigners across Russia.

The Duma was to decide this month whether the draft bill, which could allow for anyone considered to be involved in gay rights activism to be charged $16,000, would proceed to the next stage in the process of becoming law. However, it instead sent the bill back to a preparatory stage, saying it needed further discussion.

According to Russia Today, the postponement was announced by the former Chairman of the Federation Council, Sergey Mironov. He revealed that he was displeased with the news and suggested a high-up politician was blocking the measure: “We are talking about the ban on propaganda. Do you remember how [the head of the parliamentary committee for family policy] Yelena Mizulina said that she had a feeling that someone was deliberately opposing all bills concerning this subject? Now we postponed it again, and it raises questions.”

The initial hearing of the bill was previously delayed from December to January after it sparked demonstrations from gay activists who said the bill was needlessly discriminatory and would distract from more serious issues.

In contrasts to the protest, the bill is widely supported by the public. There have been instances of heated counter-protests turning violent, as was the case in Moscow in December and Voronezh on Sunday.

An opinion poll from spring 2012 revealing that 86% of Russians approve of the bill, although only 6% reported having been subject to “homosexual propaganda”.