Russia set to approve bill against 'gay propaganda'

Tue. January 22, 2013 9:26 AM by

The Russian Parliament is expected to approve a bill which would outlaw gay propaganda, possibly as early as Tuesday.

The measure is modeled after a law which took effect last year in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg's law criminalizes "public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors." It also bans public events that promote gay rights, such as Gay Pride parades and gay rights demonstrations.

Pavel Samburov, the founder of the gay rights group Rainbow Association, is quoted in Time magazine as calling the bill an attempt to divert public attention from growing discontent with President Vladimir Putin's rule.

Polina Savchenko, director of the St. Petersburg-based gay rights group Coming Out, said the new law would make it illegal to mention the sexuality of famous gay Russians.

"This radical law undermines the great legacy of our city's past and future. If it passes, it would be illegal to mention that famed Russian composer of the 1812 Overture, St. Petersburg native Tchaikovksy, was gay," said Savchenko. "This law installs a culture of censorship in what was once Russia's most cosmopolitan city and is a huge blow to the freedom of expression in Russia. At a time when people all over the world are opening up and coming out, this law puts Russia back in the closet."

In a New York Times editorial, Masha Gessen asserted that such laws, now in place in more than half a dozen Russian cities, "have served to mobilize and embolden Russia's neo-Nazis." Gessen pointed to the cold shoulder a group of gay rights activists protesting the federal proposal received from policemen on Sunday in the city of Voronezh. As a crowd physically attacked the demonstrators, police merely stood by.

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