Russia’s lower house of parliament has unanimously approved a bill that effectively bans any expression of LGBTQ life.
new law Widens the ban on “LGBT propaganda” and prohibits the “display” of LGBTQ behavior, any action or information deemed to promote homosexuality – whether in public, online or in films, books or advertising – Subject to heavy fine.
The law still needs the approval of the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin, but those steps are seen as a formality.
“Any propaganda of non-traditional ties will have consequences,” Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the lower house, or State Duma, said on social media.
The bill would “save the future of our children and our country from the darkness spread by the US and European states”, he said.
Activists say the new law cracks down on “non-traditional” sex in Russia, legal experts warn its vague language leaves room for law enforcement officials to interpret it broadly, leading to Risks and uncertainties increase for the country. LGBTQ community.
Ksenia Mikhailova of the LGBTQ aid group Vykhod (“Coming Out”) told Reuters news agency that adults-only gay bars or clubs would still be allowed to function, although perhaps not to advertise, but publicly. Same-sex kissing should probably be taken as a violation.
And she said same-sex couples would begin to fear their children could be taken away from them on the grounds that they were exhibiting a so-called LGBTQ lifestyle.
Legislators say they are “defending the traditional values of”Russian world”against a liberal West they claim is out to destroy them – an argument also increasingly being used by the authorities as a justification Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,
Authorities have already used existing legislation to block gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists. Rights groups say the new law aims to completely exclude those living “non-traditional” lives, including lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people, from public life.
“LGBT is an element of hybrid warfare today and in this hybrid warfare we must defend our values, our society and our children,” Alexander Khinshtein, one of the bill’s architects, said last month.
The law provides for fines of up to 400,000 rubles ($6,600) for individuals and up to 5 million rubles ($82,100) for legal entities. Foreigners may face 15 days of arrest and subsequent deportation.
Mikhailova said the original ban nine years ago on LGBTQ “propaganda” toward minors triggered a wave of attacks against the community, and it can now expect a “tsunami” as the amendment “in effect” says the state. Not against violence towards LGBT people”.
Political scientist Ekaterina Schulman said the law aims to ban anything depicting LGBTQ relationships or orientations as “socially acceptable” or “equivalent to so-called traditional family relationships or sexual relationships”.
“People – writers, publishers, just people – will think twice before mentioning anything LGBT-related,” she said in an interview from Cologne in Germany.
On Thursday, the European Union also raised concerns over the passage of the bill.
“These legislative developments fuel homophobia and further deepen the harsh suppression of any critical and alternative discourse in the context of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine,” it said in a statement.
Shulman said the bill was also a “huge victory” for the communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, which had previously “assumed the powers of a political police” and would now be given the authority and responsibility to monitor all types of information. Was staying LGBTQ is called “propaganda”.
Rights groups say they will continue to fight for the rights of minorities, even if the space for expression is closed.
“We plan to protect people from this ridiculous law,” Natalia Solovyova, chairperson of the Russian LGBT Network, told the AFP news agency.
“LGBTQ people are not leaving, they still need our help and support.”