Russia have passed a bill by unanimous vote banning ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’.
Yesterday, Russia passed a bill in the Duma, or lower house, banning the ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’. In classic Russian fashion the legislation passed with unanimous support with 436 in favour, zero against and a single abstention. Perhaps Putin made sure sushi was served during the recess break in order to send a message.
Russia has had a long-standing problem with homophobia. During the Soviet era anyone convicted of homosexuality could face five years imprisonment. This law was removed from the penal code during the Soviet Union’s dissolution. But Russia has recently regressed back to its crazy stage faster than Tom Cruise at a DFS sale and is metaphorically jumping on all the couches while the world looks on in disbelief.
The law is intended to protect minors from “information that can bring harm to their health and wellbeing”. This means that telling children about the existence of homosexuality or that homo and heterosexual relationships are equal can be punished with a 5,000 Ruble (£98.49) fine for a Russian citizen, 1million Ruble (£19,698) fine for a company, or 15 days in prison followed by deportation, for a foreign national. In contrast, the display of pro-Nazi statement incurs a 2000 Ruble (£39.40) fine.
Furthermore the broad nature of the term ‘propaganda’ means that the law can criminalise gay pride rallies, self-identification as gay, overt support for the gay community and even rainbow-suspenders which are currently banned in St Petersburg (but soon to be illegal all across Russia). Apparently the legislators believe it is safer to have a straight man with his pants round his ankles and his tackle out than a gay man ensuring his modesty with colourful suspenders; an example of what is termed the ‘university rugby team’ approach to homosexuality.
The passing of the bill prompted LGBT activists to organise a ‘kissing protest’ outside of parliament. However they were outnumbered by anti-gay protesters and the two protests eventually dissolved into violence and numerous LGBT activists were assaulted and detained by police. The below video is a snippet of the events and shows the violence that the activists faced from both counter-protesters and police:
Homophobia is not just restricted to Putin’s party. During the protest, a Communist Party official encouraged police to beat and castrate the ‘faggots’ while Yelena Mizulina of the left leaning A Just Russia party was one of the bill’s authors.
The bill still needs to pass through the upper house and gain Putin’s signature of approval. But sadly neither step is in any serious doubt.
Image by Petergray1989 at Flickr