Russian Government Approves ’Gay Propaganda’ Ban Measure
On Wednesday, the upper house of Russia’s parliament approved the controversial "gay propaganda" bill that fines individuals for "propaganda of non-traditional sex relations to minors, including in the media, on the Internet and via viral adverts," Russia Today reports.
More than 130 Russian senators voted for the draft bill, which "introduces administrative liability and fines of up to a million rubles (over US$30,000) for promotion of homosexuality among children," RT writes.
In June, Russia’s lower house, the State Duma, approved the controversial measure, which has been criticized by human rights activists from across the globe. According to a poll by the Russian Public Opinion Research, 88 percent of the population supports the introduction of the measure.
Valentina Matvienko, Federation Council speaker, says the measure does not discriminate against the LGBT community and was created to protect Russia’s youth.
"They are ordinary equal members of the society. As adults, they are entitled to decide how they want to live. But when it comes to minors [the ban on propaganda] is not someone’s whim, but a demand from the society," Matvienko said.
If the bill is signed into law, individuals who violate the measure can be fined up to 5,00 rubles ($152 U.S.) for "gay propaganda." Officials who break the law will pay up to 50,000 rubles ($1,5000 U.S.) and companies up to 500,000 rubles (about $15,000 U.S.).
RT reports that individuals who use the media or Internet to promote non-traditional sex relations, run the risk of being slapped with a fine of 100,000 rubles (about $3,000 U.S.) and organizations will be forced to pay a million rubles (more than $30,000 U.S.) or face a 90-day suspension of activities. Foreign citzens or stateless persons who break the law will also be subjected to a fine, or an arrest for up to 15 days, then be deported from Russia.
The law, which many consider vague, explains what is considered to be "gay propaganda" of non-traditional relations.
"It is the distribution of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual concept in children, describing such ties as attractive, promoting the distorted understanding of social equality of traditional and non-traditional relations and also unwanted solicitation of information that could provoke interest in such relations," RT writes.
Russian gay rights activists and activists from a number of other countries have labeled the measure as anti-gay, but the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, told Western countries not to interfere with the issue. His remarks came during a media conference while he was visiting Finland. He reiterated that the bill isn’t against the LGBT community and does not violate rights their rights.
"Some countries ... think that there is no need to protect children from this. We do. We are not going to interfere," he said. "But we are going to provide such protection the way that State Duma lawmakers have decided."
A few of Russia’s regions have already adopted the law, namely St. Petersburg. Dina Gusovsky, an international politics columnist and former Russia Today reporter, wrote that the law’s ambiguity benefits the government.
"The vagueness of it makes it all the easier for law enforcement to go after individuals they think have violated a law that has such a wide interpretation," she said.
Russian gay activists have protested and challenged the measure since its inception. Last year, Russian police arrested 17 gay rights activists after participating in a May Day celebration in St. Petersburg under the controversial law. In May of this year, however, 100 LGBT activists marched during a May Day parade with zero arrests.