Russia: Protesters detained as lawmakers look set to pass law banning ‘gay propaganda’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The State Duma in Russia looks set to give final approval to a law which would ban “homosexual propaganda” to minors, and includes harsh punishments including jail time and fines.

The Duma is expected to give its final approval to the bill banning  “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, to minors as well as media organisations, today.

Protesters gathered outside the Duma, but were seriously outnumbered by the bill’s supporters, some of whom carried religious icons. Those against the bill kissed in public, before 20 people were detained in scuffles, police confirmed.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Yelena Mizulina, of the A Just Russia party said: “Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman… and these relations need special protection from the Government.”

According to AFP, only one lawmaker, Alexei Mitrofanov, also of A Just Russia, criticised the bill, saying: “I am in general against the concept of this bill.”

The bill must be passed by the Duma in its third reading, before it goes on to the Senate for consideration. It is expected to pass, and will then be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

The draft law, submitted in March 2012, details that the “promotion of homosexuality” among children could warrant fines of 4,000-5,000 rubles (£85-105) for individuals, 40,000-50,000 rubles (£850-1050) for officials, and 400-500,000 (£8,500-10,500) rubles for businesses.

It also targets foreigners, as many LGBT activists have travelled to Russia to support LGBT events. It details that such offenders can be detained by police for up to 15 days, deported, and fined up to 100,000 rubles (£2,000).

Similar laws have already been passed regionally in ten different areas of Russia, but this bill would impose the law nationwide.

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.

St Petersburg’s anti-gay laws were frequently headline news last year due in part due to action being brought against pro-gay rights singers including Madonna, and Lady Gaga speaking out against the discriminatory law.