St Petersburg lawmakers have approved on its third reading a bill to ban positive public discussion of LGBT identity.
The St. Petersburg city parliament passed the bill with 29 deputies voting in favor, five voting against the bill, and one abstaining (15 deputies did not vote).
The St Petersburg 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).
Member of the Board of Coming Out and Chairman of Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov:
“I am ashamed of St. Petersburg, ashamed of the deputies. We know that the majority of them realize very well the absurdity and unjust nature of this law. But those who voted in favor did not vote according to their conscience, but according to their “duty”, because this is what their superiors told them to do. They are not able to vote according to their conscience as most of them were given their deputy seats not by the electorate will, but by those in power. Everybody knows how the elections for the Legislative Assembly went on December 4th.
Today everyone can see that the abuse of the elections process, together with the ambitions of those who have power to keep it no matter what, open the door to “milonovs” – fanatics, obscurantists, and bigots. Usually after such “milonovs” arrive the fascists. Laws against gays are only the beginning, tomorrow “milonovs” will come after others. Those who applaud the “triumph of traditional values” today will very soon be surprised to find themselves among those “banned.”
Communications manager of Coming Out, Olga Lenkova:
“The voting results of course did not come as a surprise to us. Already on Friday, after the so-called ‘public’ hearings, it was clear that neither Mr. Milonov, nor his colleagues in the United Russia were willing to hear any of the arguments that lawyers, scientists, or human rights activists had to make. The fact that they ignored even the Legal Department of the Legislative Assembly itself, who criticized the bill as not defining the “objective side of the violation”, is a clear indication of that. LGBT organization Coming Out will definitely continue the struggle against the law and call on the Governor to not sign this unconstitutional piece of legislation that incites hatred against a social group.”
The EU has previously issued a resolution “strongly” condemning Russia for its various local laws that have targeted LGBTs. Similar laws were implemented in 2006 in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk in September 2011, and in the Kostroma region in December of 2011. Several MPs in Moscow have reportedly expressed a desire to draft similar legislation. Meanwhile the ruling party’s representatives are suggesting that such a law should be passed in the State Duma, the federal parliament.
City governor Georgiy Poltavchenko now has 14 days to sign the bill into law, or send it back to be “reworked.”
Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to antonella.beccaria