St. Petersburg governor Georgiy Poltavchenko has signed into law a ban on positive discussion of LGBT identity in the public sphere.
Lawmakers in St. Petersburg passed the legislation to international outcry last month. It was hoped that with several campaigns, including a concerted effort by Care2 members, Governor Poltavchenko might abandon the legislation. Sadly, it emerged over the weekend that the governor has signed the bill into law.
The law is designed to prevent the “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism and transgenderism”. 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).
The European Union has already adopted a resolution “strongly” condemning the law. Human rights activists within the country have also spoken out against the legislation.
Authors of the law maintain that it is designed to “protect children from information that can harm their physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual development”. The term “propaganda” is defined as any uncontrolled and targeted distribution of information through any accessible means to minors that can […] form an incorrect perception of social equivalence between traditional and non-traditional conjugal relations”. Authorities project “traditional values” and clerical rhetoric onto politics, and prioritize “interests of majority” over the value of human individuality. We realize that today, fascist-like rhetoric in Russia is becoming basis for legislative activity.
In fact, this law has little to do with protecting minors. Today, neither homosexual people, nor human rights defenders, nor lawyers can answer the question of how this law is going to be applied in practice, due to its vague nature and non-legal terminology. To talk about existence of homosexuality, to publicly denounce homophobic violence, to develop sense of self-awareness and dignity in homosexual people, to promote tolerance – all of these acts can fall under the “propaganda” law. This law will serve directly to further isolate and marginalize the gay community and encourage hate towards a social group.
60 years ago philosopher and founder of totalitarianism theory, Hannah Arendt, said that in a totalitarian state, citizens are “either victims or executioners and the movement by its ideology seeks to prepare them to fill either role.” Handing out of roles has begun: Russian authorities legalized discrimination of homosexuals. What will come next?
We are convinced that no authority can deprive people of their right to dignity, to respect of private and family life, to freedom of expression and to protection from discrimination and violence. We are offended and outraged by this act by city authorities and will continue fighting for the rights of LGBT citizens until the barbaric law is repealed.
Similar laws to this were implemented in 2006 in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk in September 2011, and in the Kostroma region in December of 2011.
There has also been the suggestion that Russia’s ruling party may now attempt to pass similar legislation in the State Duma, the federal parliament.
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to antonella.beccaria