Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev, who are members of the Russian Communist Party, on Oct. 29 introduced the measure in the Russian Duma.
Authorities would fine people who engage in “public expression of unconventional sexual relationships,” which the measure defines as “a public demonstration of their distorted sexual preferences in public places,” 4,000 – 5,000 rubles ($62.28 – $77.85.) Those who commit the aforementioned actions “in institutions that provide educational, cultural or youth services” would face the same penalty and 15 days in jail.
Nikitchuk and Arefyev’s bill also includes a multi-page description.
“A serious danger to our society today is the promotion of homosexuality expressed in one form or another,” it reads. “We should understand that the open demonstration of non-traditional sexual relations leads to a deliberate coup [against] domestic culture and foundation of human relationships.”
The description cites then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s landmark 2011 speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council in which she proclaimed “gay rights are human rights.” It also notes President Obama’s presidential memorandum that directed government agencies responsible for U.S. foreign policy to promote LGBT rights in the countries in which they work.
“The most direct [example of promoting LGBT rights] applies to a gay parade, during which people take to the streets not only in order to protect their rights, but to demonstrate their atypical perverse sexuality,” reads the description.
“The danger of this kind of propaganda of homosexuality it is for children and young people, often very susceptible to suggestion,” it says. “Aggressive promotion of homosexual views, including undercover protection of human rights, is clearly [a] provocative character.”
The description cites members of the Russian Sexological Association who conclude homosexuality is a “social illness.” It also notes that “homosexual relationships are associated with mental illness,” even though it has not been classified as such in Russia since 1999.
The lawmakers also argue their measure is “primarily aimed at” preventing “pedophilia in Russian society.”
“Scientific research, as well as the history of homosexuality indicates that the homosexual movement from its inception includes its support of pedophilia in their agenda,” their measure reads. “You can even say that pedophilia…is an essential component of the homosexual movement, without which it would not substantially proceed.”
Advocates blast lawmakers, Russian government
Tanya Cooper of Human Rights Watch in a statement described the measure as a “new and absurd low in discriminatory legislative proposals.”
“The draft proposes to effectively outlaw being gay, and just being yourself could land you behind bars,” she said.
Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First, a Washington-based advocacy group, agreed.
“This bill is another example of the rampant homophobia and discrimination that members of the LGBT community in Russia and the surrounding region are facing,” he told the Blade on Wednesday in a statement.
Nikitchuk and Arefyev introduced their bill more than two years after President Vladimir Putin signed a law banning the promotion of so-called gay propaganda to minors. The Kremlin subsequently faced international criticism over its LGBT rights record, especially around the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.
“We remain concerned by the treatment of LGBT persons in Russia, including a 2013 law that outlaws so-called LGBT ‘propaganda.’” Julia Mason, an official with the State Department, told the Blade earlier this week. “We fundamentally disagree with the idea that anyone needs protection from LGBT individuals or from those advocating for the human rights of LGBT individuals.”
“We call on Russia to bring its legislation in line with its commitments and obligations, including upholding the fundamental freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association for all citizens,” she added.
Nikithuk and Arefyev note lawmakers in Kazakhstan and other neighboring countries have considered measures that would ban “aggressive propaganda of homosexuality.”
“The adoption of the bill is aimed at…strengthening public morality and health of citizens,” their bill reads.
It remains unclear as to when Russian lawmakers will consider the measure.
Neither Nikitchuk nor the Russian government responded to the Blade’s request for comment. Efforts to reach Arefyev were unsuccessful.