A new bill that would ban “gay propaganda” from being directed towards minors passed its first reading in the Russian Lower House today.
The bill states that children need to be protected from “homosexual propaganda” and that “this propaganda goes through the mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior.” This could potentially ban events campaigning for LGBT rights and mean hefty fines for organizers for creating “false perceptions of the social equality of traditional and nontraditional sexual relations.”
Yelena Kostyuchenko, a Russian journalist and LGBT rights supporter, told reporters that “The law absolutely does not define what gay propaganda is and the reasons are understandable because gay propaganda does not exist…In that respect, any information on, as the law puts it, ‘equal values of traditional and unorthodox marital relations’ is considered ‘gay propaganda.'”
Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, however many LGBT individuals still face discrimination. About two-thirds of Russians consider homosexuality to be a “disease” or a “bad habit,” according to Bloomberg. Gay pride events are banned in the capital city, and many cities currently have similar laws banning “gay propaganda” already in place.
The bill must pass two more readings in the Lower House, and then be approved by the Upper House and President Vladimir Putin before being enacted into law.