June 11, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-gay bill passes in Russian parliament
Russia, Moscow, Red Square, St. Basil's Cathedral, gay news, Washington Blade

Russian parliament members on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would ban so-called gay propaganda to minors. (Photo by Dmitry Azovtsev via Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • Jim Billingsley

    Screw the Russians (literally ofcourse), the Chic-fil-a I’m sure is on the way. I was planning a trip as tourist with a friend but I’ve decided that my disposable income is better spent in a more acceptable country. After all, I wasn’t trying to buy a russian bride! I think the Chic-fil-a franchise might have to convert to Catholicism to get there but we’ll see. Hehe. Hey Russia, What are you afraid of?!? On a serious note, you can pass laws and suppress parts of your population like russia has for the last 96 years but I guess that lesson has been lost. This time around can the russian government please explain the legal penalties and ramifications for being gay in your country and post it over the internet so not only your citizens, but also your visitors have a clear representation of how to act and not to break the laws?

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