A gay rights protest aimed at stopping Russia’s proposed anti-gay propaganda ban was marred by an attack from self-identified orthodox Christians this week.
Around thirty gay rights activists gathered outside of Russia’s parliament in Moscow to protest the bill ahead of its anticipated reading on Tuesday. However, they were confronted by a number of anti-gay hardliners who wasted no time in assaulting them, sparking a fight with around 12 of the LGBT rights protesters. The LGBT rights defenders were pelted with eggs and sprayed with ketchup, their pro-gay signs torn away amid a clamor of anti-gay obscenities.
Four police officers intervened “about five minutes into the clash,” a RIA Novosti correspondent said.
The pro-LGBT rally had been titled “For traditional values: love, family and respect for human dignity.”
You can see a video of the incident below, but be advised that the video contains footage of participants being attacked:
The proposed ban, Bill 6.13.1, would ban promotion of LGBT “practices” among minors and stipulates that so-called “homosexual propaganda” should be classed as an administrative offense.
The bill would demand fines of 5,000 rubles ($170) for individuals, up to 50,000 rubles ($1,700) for officials, and up to 500,000 ($16,500) for legal entities.
European powers have condemned the bill as being highly antagonistic to human rights, while Russia’s own courts have struggled with similar bans, like the one imposed in St Petersburg last year.
The St Petersburg ban was invoked when pop megastar Madonna was fined $10.5 million for supposedly promoting homosexuality among minors during an August pop concert. The court hearing surrounding those charges ridiculed the suit, and many analysts pointed out how aggressively the Religious Right in the country was attempting to use the law as an anti-freedom of speech provision.
The nationwide ban is backed by President Putin, despite international condemnation of the bill.
There is, however, a small ray of light in this news.
The Russian parliament had been set to take up the bill for its initial reading on Tuesday but, according to reports, consideration of the bill has been adjourned until Thursday with rumors that there is as yet no definite date for a first reading.
Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, vice-president of the of the LGBT Intergroup, is quoted as saying: “I’m relieved today’s debate in the Duma was postponed, and I hope this is a sign that the Russian Federation takes its international obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights seriously. Russian people, whether they are LGBT, feminists, political activists or anything else, all deserve freedom of speech. Vladimir Putin’s party should stop undermining itself by hitting — literally — on minorities.”
RT News reports that supporters of the bill are blaming a senior politician in Russia’s lower legislative chamber for delaying the vote, though the identity of said politician is, at the time of writing, unknown.
Image credit: Thinkstock.