Russia passes law banning ‘LGBT propaganda’ among adults

Russia’s parliament has passed the third and final reading of a law banning “LGBT propaganda” among all adults, as Moscow made its conservative push at home amid the war in Ukraine that marked the nine-month passage on Thursday. Gave.

The bill criminalises any act that Russia regards as an attempt to promote “non-traditional sexual relations” – in film, online, advertising or in public – and expands on a infamous A 2013 law that banned the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors and has been used to detain gay rights activists.

Under the new law, individuals could be fined up to 400,000 rubles (£5,400) and organizations up to 5m rubles (£68,500) for “promoting non-traditional sexual relations”, while foreigners could be jailed for up to 15 days and could face expulsion from Russia.

Human rights groups and LGBTQ+ activists say that the extension of the law means that any act or public mention of same-sex relationships is functionally illegal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Kremlin has launched a new effort to promote “traditional values”, with the Russian leader making anti-gay rhetoric a cornerstone of his political agenda.

In a recent speech, Putin accused the West of “moving towards open Satanism”, citing his promotion of gay and transgender rights. europe For example.

Alexander Khinshtein, a senior lawmaker and one of the bill’s designers, said the war in Ukraine had given “new relevance” to the proposed LGBTQ+ law.

“Special military operations take place not only on the battlefield, but also in the minds and souls of people,” Khinshtein said, referring to the conflict in Ukraine.

In an earlier discussion of the bill, Khinshtein took aim at the popular children’s cartoon Peppa Pig, when a lesbian couple joined the cast of characters in an episode titled Families.

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Patriarch KirillThe head of the Russian Orthodox Church and a close ally of Putin also supported the new law. In an earlier sermon, Kirill bizarrely blamed the country’s invasion of Ukraine on a gay pride parade.

Human rights activists condemned the bill on Thursday. Igor Kochetkov, head of rights group Russian LGBT Network, said the bill was an “absurd” government attempt to further discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community in Russia.

“This law is part of an ongoing homophobic government campaign against LGBTQ rights,” said Kochetkov, who recently left Russia. “It is part of a wider attack by the government on anything deemed ‘Western and progressive’.”

Kochetkov said the bill was also an attempt by the Kremlin to seek internal enemies and to divert attention from battlefield losses.

Human rights critics fear the law will be used to shut down independent film and book festivals, making the topic of gay sexual orientation essentially taboo in Russia.

Kochetkov said the bill’s vague wording made it difficult to gauge how restrictive the law would be. “Officials don’t explain what they mean by ‘LGBT propaganda.’ At this point, it’s hard to know how this will affect the community,” he said. “But the situation in the LGBTQ community was already dire before this bill.”

Over the past few years, Russia has banned several prominent LGBTQ+ rights groups, including the Sphere Foundation, an organization that highlights violent acts anti gay purge In Chechnya.

Kochetkov’s LGBT network has also received the award, along with several other human rights groups. “foreign agent” The label, a Soviet-era tag designed to target groups that officials say receive “foreign funding” and engage in “political activity”.

But while the Russian government has expanded its attacks on LGBTQ+ rights, recent polling has indicated that parts of Russian society are becoming more tolerant of the gay community, a 2019 poll suggests. 68% young Russians View the LGBTQ+ community as “normal”.

And in July, Russia’s highest-ranked female tennis player, Daria Kasatkina, came out as gayThe move was applauded by fellow athletes and parts of the Russian public.

Pointing to these reactions, Kochetkov said the new law would not drastically change the way Russians view lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people. “Many people in the country are becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community and a new law will not reverse this trend,” he added.

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