Russia: Duma's initial approval of anti-LGBTI bill is 'state-sanctioned homophobia'

An LGBTI rally being broken up in St Petersburg in 2013 © Roma Yandolin

Proposed law would impose large fines for promotion of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’

‘State-sanctioned homophobia is about to be ramped up to a whole new level’ - Marie Struthers

Responding to news that Russia’s Duma, the lower house of Parliament, has approved the first reading of a bill which seeks to extend a ban on so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to all age groups, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Director, said:

“In Russia’s new era of repression, state-sanctioned homophobia is about to be ramped up to a whole new level. 

“The new draft ‘gay propaganda’ law not only brazenly deprives LGBTI people of their right to freedom of expression and endorses their discrimination, but will likely also lead to an increase in violent attacks and other hate crimes against them.

“From banning films and books with openly LGBTI characters, to ostracising LGBTI people, the passing of this new law will be yet another disaster for human rights.”

Large fines

Earlier today, the Duma approved the first of three required readings of a draft law that seeks to ban the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to all age groups. Individuals caught committing this “offence” could be fined between 50,000 (£700) and 400,000 rubles (£5,600), while organisations could be fined up to five million rubles (£70,000).

The strictest penalties would apply to “propaganda” shared with minors through the media or the internet, or when “committed” by a foreign citizen or stateless person. The bill requires approval by both houses of the Russian Parliament and must be signed into law by President Putin before it is enacted. This could happen within days.

Nine years ago, the Russian authorities introduced a law that banned the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors under the pretext of protecting young people from “harmful influence. 

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