Russian Church Official Wants National Gay Gag Rule
Fresh off the back of the governor of St. Petersburg signing into law a ban on the so-called “promotion” of LGBT identity in the public sphere, the AP reports that a senior figure in the Russian Orthodox Church is lobbying for the government to adopt a nationwide ban on the promotion of gay rights.
Father Dmitry Pershin, head of the church’s youth council, said Monday in a statement that the law should be applied nationwide “without delay.”
Gay rights activists say the law could be used to ban any public demonstrations by Russia’s embattled gay and transgender community.
“The determination displayed by representatives of sexual minorities and their desire to continue rallying outside children’s establishments indicate the timeliness of this regional law, which should, without delay, be given federal status, this, however, is the task for State Duma lawmakers,” Hieromonk Dimitri Pershin, the Russian patriarch’s representative on youth issues, said in a statement obtained by RIA Novosti.
Pershin’s comments came after an alleged statement by gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev, who said LGBT groups would protest in front of kindergardens in response to the law.
Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida did not immediately return a request for comment.
The St. Petersburg law is designed to prevent the “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism” under the guise of protecting children. The legislation includes a ban on gay positive messages in public and would serve to virtually ban gay pride events.
For breaking this law there is a fine of 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals, and for officials 50,000 rubles ($1,725). The fine for legal entities has increased tenfold since the original version of the legislation, from 50,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles ($17,250).
This comes as LGBT rights groups in the country denounce the St. Petersburg law and aim particular criticism at St. Petersburg Governor Gregory Poltavchenko, accusing him of putting his religious beliefs — he is an open proponent for the Orthodox Church — before his obligation to civil rights.
Russia has repeatedly attempted to defy a European Court of Human Rights ruling saying that the nation must allow LGBT citizens freedom of assembly.
The European Union has already adopted a resolution “strongly” condemning the law and all attempts made by Russian lawmakers to criminalize and marginalize the country’s LGBT population.