New legislation intensifies repression of the gay community in Russia, affecting everything from books and movies to social media posts
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Law enforcement officers block the way to participants in a demonstration for the rights of the LGBTQ community in downtown St. Petersburg, Russia (REUTERS/Anton Vaganov/File)
Russian lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that bans all forms of LGBTQ “propaganda” in a final reading on Thursday, as President Vladimir Putin seeks to promote his country as the antithesis of Western liberal values.
Russia already has a law banning so-called “gay propaganda” for minors, and the new bill would expand it to include adults and effectively ban any public mention of homosexual relationships.
Human rights activists say the new legislationsteps up the crackdown on LGBTQ relations in Russia, affecting everything from books and movies to social media posts and even drag shows.
Legislation will need to be backed by the upper house and by Putin before becoming law, steps considered a formality.
Amid rising tensions with the world's major democracies, as the Kremlin pushes for their offensive in Ukraine, Putin has been promoting increasingly conservative values to rally his main constituency.
“Any propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations will have consequences,” the president of Putin said on Telegram. the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin.
The legislation, he said, “will protect our children and the future of the country from darkness spread throughout the United States and Europe.”
“We have our own traditions and values,” he added.
As the Kremlin pushes its offensive in Ukraine, Putin has been promoting increasingly conservative values to rally his main constituency. (Sputnik/Vladimir Smirnov/Pool via REUTERS)
The bill also bans “pedophilia and sex change propaganda”.
The legislation prohibits what authorities deem LGBTQ “propaganda” in advertising, books, the media and film.
Violators will face hefty fines of up to 10 million rubles ($165,000).
The State Duma said websites containing prohibited information will be blocked.
Russian film production companies and book publishers have raised concerns about the bill, saying it could lead to a ban on some Russian classics, such as Lolita” by Vladimir Nabokov.
“Films that promote this type of relationship will not receive a distribution certificate,” the Duma said.
LGBTQ rights groups have called on Russia not to adopt the measure, saying it will ban any public mention of sexual minorities.
Amnesty International (AI) noted after the first reading that the amended legislation will increase homophobia with the permission of the Russian state and that it will reach a whole new level.
”The new “gay propaganda” bill not only blatantly deprives LGBTI people of their right to freedom of expression and endorses their discrimination, it is also likely to lead to an increase in violent attacks and other hate crimes against them,” said AI Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Marie Struthers.
In the same vein, the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, warned this Thursday that the Russian law is a “hard blow” to the Human Rights of the people who make up said community.
“The reform of the Russian law that prohibits the information on LGTBI issues constitutes a new blow against the freedom of expression and the Human Rights of these people in Russia,” he said in a message through his Twitter account.
< p lang="en" dir="ltr">The proposed expansion of Russia's ban on information regarding LGBTQI+ issues would be another serious blow to freedom of expression and the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons in Russia. We urge Russian lawyers to withdraw the bill and respect the human rights and dignity of all.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) November 24, 2022
In this regard, he called on Russian deputies to withdraw the law and advocate “respecting Human Rights and dignity everyone.”
(With information from AFP, EFE and Europa Press)