President Vladimir Putin
A bill banning any positive depiction of homosexuality or support for LGBTI rights that might be seen by minors has been signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” will fine guilty individuals between 4,000 and 5,000 rubles (US$123 to $155); government officials face fines of 40,000 to 50,000 rubles ($1,235 to $1,550); and organisations up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) or a suspension of activity for up to 90 days.
Putin last week insisted that sexual minorities “are full-fledged members of our society and are not being discriminated against in any way”.
He said that the law is “not about imposing some sort of sanction on homosexuality… It’s about protecting children from such information”.
In effect, however, the law bars Pride events, posters, flyers or any attempt to promote LGBTI equality in public and could lead to the closure of LGBTI groups. The ban also applies to the press, television, radio, and the internet.
The original version or the bill barred “homosexual” propaganda, which was replaced with the term “non-traditional sexual relations”. It was passed with overwhelming majorities in the Russian parliament.
The law has been slammed by human rights groups around the world and the European Union as discriminatory and an infringement of Russians’ right to freedom of speech and assembly.
Similar laws banning “homosexual propaganda” among minors have previously been adopted in at least 10 Russian regions.
On Saturday, dozens of LGBTI activists were arrested and beaten after they attempted to hold a Pride rally in St. Petersburg under that city’s “gay propaganda” law.
Around 200 right wing nationalists confronted and violently attacked the activists before members of both groups were arrested.
According to the Russian LGBT Network, the activists were taken to different police stations. Some released activists after they were issued with summons to appear in court.
In others, police officers allegedly kept protesters in custody for an additional 24 hours if they refused to sign confessions to “deeds not committed by activists and not related to today’s action (e.g. banners and statements against Putin),” said the Network.
A recent poll found that 88% of Russians approve of banning the promotion of homosexuality. Forty two percent also believe that homosexuality should be a criminal offense.
Watch a video below of Saturday’s skirmishes in St. Petersburg.