By Alexandra Sandacz
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
MOSCOW, Russia – The Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church move forward with a bill that makes it illegal to provide minors with information that is defined as “propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism.” The law will also ban holding public events that promote gay rights.
Russia’s new anti-gay bill is part of President Putin’s effort to promote traditional Russian values. The Kremlin and the Orthodox Church believe Western liberalism is corrupting the Russian youth.
Supporters of the bill deem minors unable to critically evaluate “homosexual propaganda”. The bill states, “This propaganda goes through the mass media and public events that propagate homosexuality as normal behavior.”
Pavel Samburov, founder of the Rainbow Association, which unites gay activists throughout Russia, describes the anti-gay bill as the Kremlin’s way to politically, religiously, and sexually control minorities. Furthermore, the bill is designed to divert public attention from growing discontent with President Putin’s rule.
Samburov’s gay rights group joined various anti-Putin marches all over Moscow. During one protest in front of the Russian parliament, Samburov received 30 hours of detention and a $16 dollar fine for kissing his boyfriend. However, if the Russian anti-gay bill becomes a law, such a public kiss could be defined as illegal “homosexual propaganda” and earn a fine of up to $16,000.
Denis Volkov, a sociologist, believes the anti-gay bill fits the “general logic” of a Putin’s government’s intent to limit various rights.
Although many oppose the new anti-gay bill, there are also many others who either view the bill indifferently or with open enthusiasm.
Levada Center, an independent pollster, found that almost two-thirds of Russians find homosexuality “morally unacceptable and worth condemning.” Nearly half are against gay rallies and same-sex marriage, and almost a third believe homosexuality is the result of “a sickness or a psychological trauma.”
Various lawmakers blame the gay community for the severe decrease in Russia’s already low birth rates and state, “[gays] should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled.” A Russian executive in a government-run television network company said in a nationally televised show that the gay community should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm, and organs for transplants.
While the estimated number of gays and lesbians that live in Russia is unknown, gay individuals continue to face persistent widespread homophobia. Furthermore, only a few big cities, such as Moscow and St. Petersburg, have gay nightclubs and gyms. However, even in these accepting atmospheres, their safety is not guaranteed.
For further information, please see:
Daily Mail – Russia to outlaw ‘homosexual propaganda’ and ban public events that promote gay rights – 22 January 2013
RFE/RL – Protest Against Russian Antigay Bill Turns Violent – 22 January 2013
The Associated Press – Russia moves to enact anti-gay law nationwide – 21 January 2013
Global Post – Russia to move forward with anti-gay bill – 21 January 2013