The Russian parliament passes a law banning LGBTQ+ propaganda among adults

the main points
  • The lawmakers say they are defending the traditional values ​​of the “Russian world” against the liberal West.
  • Any action or information deemed an attempt to promote homosexuality may result in a heavy fine.
  • The authorities have already used the existing law to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.
Russia’s parliament on Thursday approved a bill that expands the ban on “gay propaganda” and restricts the “demonstration” of LGBT behavior, making any expression of the LGBT lifestyle nearly impossible.
Under the new law, which still needs approval by the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin, any action or information deemed an attempt to promote homosexuality — whether in public, online, or in films, books or advertisements — can result in a heavy fine.

Previously, the law only prohibited the promotion of LGBTQ+ lifestyles aimed at children. The new law also prohibits the “demonstration” of LGBTQ+ behavior to children.

The lawmakers say they are defending the traditional values ​​of the “Russian world” against a liberal West that they say is bent on destroying them — an argument officials are increasingly using as one of the justifications for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.
The authorities have already used the existing law to stop gay pride marches and detain gay rights activists.

Rights groups say the new law aims to take so-called “non-traditional” LGBTQ+ lifestyles practiced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people out of public life entirely.

Dmitry, who goes by the stage name Camilla Crazy White, performs during a drag queens show at a bar in Moscow on November 13, 2022. source: France Press agency / (Photo by Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images)

“hybrid war”

“Today’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people are an element of the hybrid war, and in this hybrid war, we must protect our values, our society and our children,” Alexander Khenstein, one of the architects of the bill, said last month.
Legal experts said the vagueness of the bill’s language leaves room for law enforcers to interpret it as broadly as they like, leaving members of the LGBTQ+ community even more uncertain.

Ksenia Mikhailova of the LGBTQ+ support group Vykhod (“Getting Out”) said that it is likely that adult-only gay bars or clubs will still be allowed to operate, although not advertised, but that same-sex kissing in public may be seen as a violation. .

She said same-sex couples will start to fear that their children may be taken from them on the grounds that they have a visible LGBTQ+ lifestyle.
The law stipulates fines of up to 400,000 rubles ($9,718) for individuals and up to 5 million rubles ($121,475) for legal entities. Foreigners may face 15 days of detention and subsequent expulsion.

Ms. Mikhailova said that the original ban nine years ago on LGBTQ+ “propaganda” towards minors had led to a wave of attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and that a “tsunami” could now be expected because the amendment was in effect “saying the state is not against violence towards LGBT people.” People “.

Political scientist Ekaterina Schulman said the law aims to ban anything that shows LGBTQ+ relationships or tendencies as “socially acceptable” or “equal to so-called traditional family or sexual relationships”.

“People — authors, publishers, just people — will think twice before they mention anything LGBT-related,” she said in an interview from Cologne, Germany.

Ms. Schulman said the bill was also a “huge win” for the telecoms regulator, Roskomnadzor, which had already “taken over the powers of the political police” and now had the power and responsibility to monitor all kinds of information for LGBTQ+ propaganda.

Video-sharing app TikTok was fined 3 million rubles last month for promoting “LGBT-themed videos,” while Russia’s media regulator asked publishing houses to consider withdrawing all books containing “LGBT propaganda” from sale.

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