Russia’s upper house of parliament passes LGBTQ+ propaganda law

Russia is just a few steps away from completely banning all LGBTQ+ media after approving an “LGBTQ+ propaganda law”

Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously voted to approve tighter restrictions on the “LGBTQ+ propaganda law” during a Wednesday (30 November) session.

It was passed to the Council after the State Duma approved the modifications in a 24 November vote.

The proposed amendments to the already present law would extend its censorship of LGBTQ+ media to adults as well as children – whom it already affects.

It has now moved to be signed by president Vladimir Putin, who is expected to do so in the coming days, before being implemented into state law.

Those who breach the law by spreading so-called “LGBT propaganda” or attempting to do so will be fined up to 400,000 roubles (£5,466), while legal entities can be fined 5 million roubles (£68,327).

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Non-nationals can also be arrested for up to 15 days or deported.

Its effects on organisations have already been felt after Russia fined social media app TikTok for breaching the law in October.

Parent company ByteDance was fined 3 million roubles (£44,000) for what officials called “promoting non-traditional values, LGBT, feminism, and a distorted representation of traditional sexual values.”

State Duma information committee chairman Alexander Khinshtein originally proposed that the legislation be expanded on July 2022, saying that the current law was now “insufficient.”

“We propose to fully extend the ban on that sort of propaganda among audiences of all ages (offline, media outlets, the internet, social media, as well as in cinema theatres),” he said.

But various human rights organisations have warned that the legislation does not explicitly state what it defines as “LGBTQ+ propaganda,” which could lead to even more censorship.

In an interview with The Guardian, Russian LGBT Network head Igor Kochetkov said: “Officials don’t explain what they mean under ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda.’

“At this point, it is hard to know how this will affect the community, but the situation of the LGBTQ+ community was already very dire before this bill.”

Russian-Canadian ambassador summoned to explain anti-LGBTQ+ posts

Oleg Stepanov speaking over webcam in front of a draped Russian flag and a doorway
The Russian ambassador for Canada has been summoned by the government to answer for homophobic posts on social media. (YouTube/CTV News)

During the perpetual approval of the legislation amendments by the Russian government, the Russian-Canadian embassy’s Twitter page was inundated with several anti-LGBTQ+ posts.

Russian ambassador Oleg Stepanov was reportedly summoned by the Canadian government to explain the actions of the Twitter page after it posted an image of a crossed-out LGBTQ+ flag with the caption: “It is all about family. Family is a man and a woman and children.”

Additionally, the profile claimed that Canada was complicit in supporting a “neoliberal agenda” that aims to conflate “the concepts of individual sexual preferences and universal human rights.”

A spokesperson for Canadian minister Mélanie Joly said that the “hateful propaganda” was clearly “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

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