Russian lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill that would ban the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors.
The Russian LGBT Network said on its Facebook page the measure passed in the Duma by a 436-0 vote margin with one abstention. Individuals would face fines of between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles ($124-$155,) and government officials would face fines of between 40,000 and 50,000 rubles ($1,241-$1,551.)
Organizations would face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) or suspension of their activities for up to 90 days. Foreigners could also face up to 15 days in jail and deportation.
“This is a very sad day for the Russian LGBTI community and for Russian democracy,” Martin K. I. Christensen, co-chair of ILGA-Europe’s Executive Board, said.
Lawmakers passed the bill amid growing concerns over anti-LGBT violence and discrimination in the country.
Two men allegedly sodomized Vladislav Tornovoi with empty beer bottles and set his body on fire near Volgograd on May 10 after he reportedly came out to them. Reuters on June 3 reported authorities on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East said three men stabbed and trampled a gay man to death late last month before they set his car on fire with his body inside.
Authorities on May 24 arrested Nikolai Alekseev, co-founder of Moscow Pride, and 29 other gay activists who tried to stage a Pride celebration outside Moscow City Hall. The Russian LGBT Network said police detained advocates who kissed outside the Duma before today’s vote.
The State Department in January criticized the passage of the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors bill. The United Nations and Amnesty International have also spoken out against the measure.
“Russia is trying very hard to make discrimination look respectable by calling it ‘tradition,’ but whatever term is used in the bill, it remains discrimination and a violation of the basic human rights of LGBT people,” Graeme Reid, LGBT rights program director at Human Rights Watch, said. “To try to exclude LGBT people as ‘non-traditional’ is to try and make them less than human. It is cynical, and it is dangerous.”
The Federation Council, Russia’s upper house of parliament, still needs to approve the bill, but observers expect it will easily pass in the chamber.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign it into law.