June 30, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Putin signs ‘anti-gay propaganda’ bill into law

Nikolai Alekseev, gay news, Washington Blade, Russia

Nikolai Alekseev in 2012 holds a sign in St. Petersburg that reads “homosexuality is not a perversion. Perersion is grass hockey and ice ballet.” He was fined 5,000 rubles ($154) for violating the city’s ban on gay propaganda to minors. (Photo courtesy of GayRussia.ru)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday signed a bill into law that bans the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors.

The Associated Press reported Putin signed the measure — under which individuals will 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) — less than a week after Russia’s upper house of Parliament approved it.

Organizations will also face a fine of up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) or suspension of their activities for up to 90 days. Foreigners will also face up to 15 days in jail and deportation.

The Russian Duma on June 11 passed the bill in an unanimous vote.

“I was sure it would be passed,” Nikolai Alekseev of Gay Russia, an LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade during an interview from Moscow after the Duma vote. “It will now be signed by the president, who is very much using this fight against homosexuals in his campaign to attract voters.”

Putin signed the bill into law against the backdrop of growing concern over anti-LGBT discrimination and violence in Russia.

Two men in Volgograd and on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia’s Far East in recent weeks have been killed during what local authorities have described as anti-gay attacks.

Police in St. Petersburg on Saturday arrested 40 LGBT advocates and a handful of the estimated 200 nationalists who challenged them during a gay rights rally. Authorities on May 24 arrested Alekseev and 29 other gay activists who tried to stage a Pride celebration outside Moscow City Hall.

The State Department, the European Union and retired tennis champion Martina Navratilova are among those who have criticized Russian lawmakers and Putin over their opposition to LGBT rights in the country.

Alekseev and a growing number of other LGBT rights advocates have also called for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 World Cup that will also take place in Russia.

“[They are] a very good opportunity to raise particular concerns,” Alekseev told the Blade earlier this month. “One of the ways for many countries would be to boycott these international sporting events because they take place in a country which doesn’t respect basic human rights.”

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

9 Comments
  • I’ve already seen the Sochi games advertised on TV. I doubt the US networks have the integrity to boycott Russia since it’s more about profits for them than doing the right thing and unlike something like Paula Deen’s racial slurs that few dare to defend, the right-wing would support Russia and protest a boycott ironically. It’s only when Christian rights get bashed in places like China or a Muslim country that they demand a boycott.

    Look at Uganda with its hard anti-gay bill. Have any of the US travel agencies stopped promoting travel there or threatened to do so if the bill was made law? An industry where there are many gay Americans working yet its the money that only matters.

  • Of all the sleaze and crime going on in Russia since their so-called democracy was instated, the least malignant of people are being set upon. This world is ridiculous. Can the location of the olympics be changed?

  • Who is the one winning with this bill? i cant think of anybody

  • Weird timing, don't you think? Anyway, in trying to figure out how I might put in my two cents on the demise of DOMA, I think I may have inadvertently stumbled onto the perfect wedding song for a couple of love-struck dudes. It's a little rough-and-tumble, but it's got a great dance beat. You can even play it in Russia without fear of reprisal. Check it out!

    http://biffthuringer.bandcamp.com/track/i-know-you-want-me

  • It goes without saying…anything the US is advocating, Russia will deny.

  • Disgraceful backward country… no place in a civilized planet!

  • My heart and thoughts are with you…

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