Russian State Duma gives final approval to law banning ‘homosexual propaganda’

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Lawmakers in the Russian State Duma have given final approval to a bill to ban “homosexual propaganda” to minors, and the media.

The Duma voted 436-0 with one abstention for the law which bans ”propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”, to minors as well as media organisations, punishable by large fines, or imprisonment.

The bill will now go to the Senate, before going on to be signed by President Vladimir Putin, but there appears to be no doubt that it will pass both of its next steps.

The 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.

Protesters gathered outside the Duma prior to the vote, 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.

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.

Human rights group ILGA-Europe condemned the passage of the bill, and Martin KI Christensen, Co-Chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said:  “This is a very sad day for the Russian LGBTI community and for Russian democracy.

“Today the Russian Parliament cemented its homophobic law at the federal level. Despite strong condemnation by virtually all international and European institutions and human rights organisations, Russian law makers have chosen to disregard their international human rights commitments and to ignore their own Constitution. Today the Russian Duma demonstrated that homophobia is an official state policy.”

Gabi Calleja, Co-Chair added: “We are deeply concerned by the negative impact of this law. Homophobic rhetoric which accompanied the adoption of this law at the regional and federal level for the last few years already significantly contributed toward a climate of hatred and physical violence against LGBTI people which recently resulted in a number of murders.”

The group said that the bill was part of a wider “systematic crack down” on Russian LGBT, and civil rights movements in general, and noted fines imposed on LGBT film festival Bok o Bok, under “foreign agent” laws.