Russia: LGBT rights group fined 500,000 rubles under ‘foreign agent’ law

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A Russian LGBT organisation has is the second to be fined under the “foreign agent” law, in two weeks, and has had its future put at risk by the fine.

Coming Out St Petersburg, a St Petersburg organisation which works for equality for LGBT people was fined 500,000 rubles (£10,000), under the law.

On recently introducing the controversial laws, the Kremlin said that any NGOs must register if they are in receipt of funding from foreign parties, and brands the organisation an enemy of Russia if they do so without declaration.

Russian LGBT film festival Bok o Bok, was last week targeted under the laws, and was fined a substantial amount for allegedly failing to declare foreign funding, which organisers deny having received.

Polina A from Russia’s Coming Out, human rights group AllOut’s partner of two years, said” “The level of the crackdown against gay and lesbian people in Russia is at a new high.

“We have seen what All Out members can do to bring the attention of the whole world at critical moments. Now it’s time world leaders pay attention to us or soon there will be no more human rights and equality defenders in Russia.”

AllOut is running a petition which has gathered over 175,000 signatures so far, which calls for President Vladimir Putin to “stop the legal assault on gays and lesbians.”

Andre Banks, Executive Director of All Out said: “This bill is outrageous and incredibly dangerous for millions in Russia – both gay and straight… This is a dangerous crackdown on free speech. No one will be safe from the witch hunt that will ensue, not gay people, not straight people, not even foreign businessmen and women traveling to Russia.”

“Russia’s human rights organizations do not have enormous budgets, so a 500,000 rouble fine will not be easily absorbed,” Joe Mirabella Director of Community Campaigns added. “Fines like this could bankrupt organizations like Coming Out St. Petersburg and other non profits.”

Earlier in June, the Russian Duma gave final approval to a bill to ban “homosexual propaganda” to minors, and the media. Similar laws have already been passed regionally in ten different areas of Russia, but this bill would impose the law nationwide.

Sir Elton John is due to perform in Russia in July, and in what could be a similar turn of events which saw Madonna being sued for “homosexual propaganda” last year, it has been suggested that the famed entertainer’s outfits constitute just that.