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Russia Votes to Gag Its Gay Community, and Then Some

Russia Votes to Gag Its Gay Community, and Then Some

Russia’s lawmakers say gay people are such a threat to children that there is a need to ban transmitting knowledge of homosexuality in the public sphere, and the Duma has now passed a bill to that effect.

The law received a 436-0 on Tuesday, July 11, with just one deputy abstaining from voting on the bill.

With approval by the upper chamber and President Putin appearing to be just a formality, activists warn that this effectively is a return to Russia criminalizing gay identity. The legislation bans the promotion of ”propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.

The law introduces fines for individuals (100,000 roubles/$3,143) and groups (1m roubles/$31,401) who break the law. The law also reserves special penalties for non-Russians.

Those who are foreign-born and infringe on the law can expect to be detained for up to 15 days as well as receive a 100,000 roubles/$3,143 fine. This serves to continue Russia’s attack on foreign influence that started in earnest last year with its systematic raids on foreign NGOs.

The vast scope of the law would obviously appear to ban all public advocacy of gay rights, including the pride parades of which Russian authorities have never been fond, but it could be applied further to restrict LGBT-sexual health advocacy and any and all public statements that gay relationships are just as healthy as straight relationships. The implications for public health, both and physical and mental, become obvious.

The national gay gag rule is the culmination of similar concerted efforts at a regional level, including the most infamous US-born St Petersburg law of 2012 that was designed to prevent the ”propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism.”

A court later ruled the St Petersburg law could not be used to ban Pride parades and an attempt to use the law to prosecute the popstar Madonna for a concert in August of 2012 in which she publicly advocated for gay rights was unsuccessful.

However, with the adoption of a national gay “propaganda” ban, the legislative field may have changed and could give new vigor to these regional prosecutions.

One of Russia’s most prominent LGBT activists, Nikolai Alekseev, is in the process of filing human rights charges with the Prosecutor General against Yelena Mizulina, one of the key sponsors of the bill.

Alekseev contends that Mizulina’s support for the bill, representative of the whole legislative chamber, marks a targeting of the LGBT community that causes harm and may even risk lives. The gay propaganda law will also see a clash with the footballing world, as Russia is set to host the 2018 World Cup.

As ThinkProgress points out, football governing body FIFA has continually ignored the issue and refused to address the subject of  host countries being antagonistic to LGBT people. This is further emphasized by the fact that Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, a country which actively and openly criminalizes homosexuality.

While the gay gag rule is itself odious enough, when seen through the broader spectrum and alongside other laws making their way through Russia’s legislative chambers, a truly shocking picture starts to emerge.

Care2 has previously covered Russia’s attempts to ban foreign adoptions by married gay couples. This act also looks certain to be signed into law.

Another law advanced by the Duma alongside the gay gag rule this month would mandate up to three years in prison for, according to the BBC, “offending religious feelings of the faithful.”

Like the gay gag rule, the law appears to be so poorly defined that any act or opinion, should it displease the religious, could be subject to legal action. Needless to say, this would be fertile ground for science-denial on topics such as evolution and the origins of life.

The law appears to be a direct answer to the 2012 jailing of Pussy Riot, the punk band that dared to perform an anti-Putin protest in an Orthodox cathedral.

Given the Orthodox church’s heavy support for adherence to religious conservative values and its aligning itself with the Putin administration to further such aims, there could have been no more a perfect venue for this public protest.

The reaction to that protest exemplified every bit of the repression the band protested against when the three members were found guilty of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” after being detained for a protracted period of time and enduring a heavily biased court hearing.

Rights groups warn that only immediate and united action from European powers and world leaders might now slow Russia’s slide toward becoming a human rights-free state.

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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137 comments

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2:26PM PDT on Sep 6, 2013

If a man has the right to marry another man and a woman to do it with another woman, are you going to deny the right of a brother to marry his sister? Or a parent to do with your daughter? Do not have the same right? . Rotten right?

4:58PM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Heather

There are "lesbians too, really? Duh.

For about the tenth time, I wasn't talking about females.

I'm not going to discuss this with you any longer.

11:25AM PDT on Jun 27, 2013

Bradford, do you know that there are FEMALES who are gay?? They are called LESBIANS!! And why should I not mention them because you didn't? (Yawn) please educate yourself before you comment.

4:12PM PDT on Jun 24, 2013

No wonder, people, my country is a fascist. And it's awful.

11:34AM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

Russia a shrine to capitalist values and mores.

8:00AM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

Bradford, God hasn't judged anything. That just your opinion.

8:11PM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Heather
Again (yawn) I didn't even mention females, so why are you still harping on females?

As far as "fisting" etc. is concerned, you can eat poop on a stick if you want to, I don't care, but when you stick it in our faces, demand special rights & priveledges because of it, & go into our government schools to teach & encourage our children to experiment with that stuff, then you MAKE it our business.

As far as me "judging" people because of it, God has already judged those things to be evil/sinful, so for me/us to mention that it's evil is not "judging".

7:53AM PDT on Jun 20, 2013

Bradford, re: fisting. So what?? Everyone has the same basic parts and nerve endings for pleasure regardless of whether they are straight or gay. I'm sure someone could describe a sexual practice you engage in and enjoy as "disgusting," but it's no one else's business what you do with your consenting sexual partner. And it's not your business or for you to judge what other people do in their bedrooms.

As for a "gay lifestyle" warnings: a woman is a lot LESS likely to catch an STD from another woman than she is from a man, and there's no chance of pregnancy either so no need for contraceptives.

3:27PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

S. Bradford. You seem obsessed in searching web sites looking for things to identify the faults and debased lifestyle of gay people. Why? Do you search the Internet looking for all the debased actions and lifestyles of heterosexuals? It's all there. If you're making these kinds of judgements, judge every straight person too. Seeing the paper's I'm reading recently are full of rapes, women beaten to death by their male, straight partner and children being sexually abused by men... I think you should stop being so narrow minded. Respect, equality and tolerance are the words I live by.

Shame on Russia.

2:45PM PDT on Jun 19, 2013

If you go to the C.D.C. website you can find the results of a recent 5 yr study showing that M.S.M. (men who have sex with men) were found to have more than 60 times as many NEW cases of H.I.V. & Syphillis compared to straight men. That's in addition to the many other diseases caused or spread by the activities they do with each other.

That's also after many Billions of our tax dollars have been spent on A.I.D.S. cure research, education etc.

I've read reports online that far more $$ is spent in the U.S.A. by our government etc. than is spent on Cancer, Heart Disease, or any of the major killers here, even though far more Americans die from those other diseases. Does that seem moral, or fair, or just to you Heather & David? You can look these statistics up for yourself.

We put warnings on packs of cigarettes because tobacco causes respiratory diseases etc., yet with the deadly consequences of the "gay lifestyle" do we see any warnings from our government or in the public forum? NO, we see those activities being taught & encouraged to our children in our public (government) schools, as well as any dissent or discussion on those things being censored from the public media.

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