LGBTQ community in Russia. PA
Russian lawmakers on Thursday unanimously approved a bill banning “gay propaganda”. Under the law, any promotion of homosexuality. including in books, movies and online. is considered illegal and subject to heavy penalties.
After US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the law as a “blow to free speech”, it was dubbed the “Response to Blinken” law. Many activists criticized the bill as yet another attempt to suppress Russia’s LGBTQ community.
The bill was approved by 397 votes to zero in Russia’s lower house, the Duma, with no abstentions. The bill, however, still needs to pass the upper house and be signed by President Vladimir Putin.
Notably, the original version of the controversial “gay propaganda” law was passed in 2013. It prohibits “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations (depictions of same-sex relations – between children)”. He warned that any type of promotion could affect the classics of Russian literature.
Anyone who breaks the law will face a fine of up to 400,000 rubles ($6,600), while companies promoting it could have to pay up to 5 million rubles ($82,100). Foreigners and stateless persons can be imprisoned or expelled from the country if they do not comply.
Is the ban on homosexual propaganda an attempt by Putin to defend traditional values?
Amid the escalating Russian-Ukrainian war, the development comes as President Putin tries to tighten his political grip on his country. The Russian president has repeatedly criticized the West for spreading his liberal ideas and corrupting the country’s youth.
In a recent speech, he accused the West of “moving towards open Satanism”, citing the promotion of gay and transgender rights in Europe as an example.
The ban reflects Putin’s socially conservative ideology since returning to power in 2012 as well as his close relationship with the Orthodox Church and the Kremlin. Putin originally passed the gay propaganda bill in 2013 to promote “traditional” family values in the country.
The new bill expands existing legislation prohibiting the display of any form of homosexuality, same-sex unions and “non-traditional sexual relationships” to be shown to minors. The new bill, however, would extend these restrictions to all ages.
Even though consensual sexual acts between men were decriminalized in 1993 as a condition of membership in the Council of Europe, this was done to understand that homosexuality would remain out of sight.
However, many vocal LGBTQ activists have challenged these preconceptions about same-sex relationships through the media and by organizing campaigns on the internet. The LGBTQ community in Russia will inevitably have to come up with ideas for long-term awareness.
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