Monday, 17 June 2013 22:14

Federal 'Gay Propaganda' Law Approved In Russia

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A very bad news in Russia where what we feared happened. I already evoked on several occasions "gay propaganda" laws which were adopted in some Russian states or cities like St-Petersburg. I had also evoked the idea of such a law on a federal level and it is unfortunately the bad news of the day, or even of the month, because this federal law was approved without any opposition.

Not only Russia, by a 436-0 vote and 1 abstention, passed a measurement prohibiting the spreading of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors. The law was indeed changed to sounds less anti-gay but we understand it is aimed at the LGBT community.

And, as explains The Guardian, the law makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, as well as the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law up to 100,000 roubles (2,366 euros/$3161) or sentenced from one to three months in prison, as well as special fines for foreigners.

But Russia also approved another anti-gay law which allows jail sentences of up to three years for "offending religious feelings", an initiative launched in the wake of the trial against the anti-Kremlin punk band Pussy Riot.

That's almost hard to realize these laws are real. A few months ago, I was in Moscow's airport waiting for another plane and I published some news on Lezbelib. Next time, I could have a fine for doing this!

"I have sincere contempt for the Duma's deputies. All, including the so-called opposition. You have now brought fascism to my country," wrote Yelena Kostychenko, a journalist at the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper.

LGBT Russian activists are far from giving up. According to The Guardian, Russian activists insisted they would not halt their work.

"It was totally expected – I don't take today's decision as the end of something," said Igor Kochetkov, the head of LGBT Network, a St Petersburg-based group.

"We insist on equal rights for all and we will continue to stand up against those patriarchal values that are today being actively promoted by the church and the government. We are doing this because we think these values, these norms, don't fit into a modern society."

"The government is using these instincts – homophobia, xenophobia – to justify its policies against an independent civil society," Kochetkov added. "They are making enemies out of us – not just LGBT society, but any group in society that doesn't agree with their current politics."