The Kremlin in Moscow (Pic: Jean & Nathalie)
The Russian parliament is set to hear a new bill next week that proposes banning being gay in public.
The bill would outlaw a gay or lesbian couple hugging, holding hands or kissing in public. The law could theoretically also criminalise an individual for simply stating his or her homosexuality in front of other people.
The proposed penalty for this “public expression of non-traditional sexual relations, manifested in a public demonstration of personal perverted sexual preferences in public places” is a fine of four to five thousand rubles ($53 – $66 / R800 – R1,000).
If, however, the display takes place at any educational, cultural or youth institution, those found guilty could be jailed for up to 15 days.
The bill was introduced last October by two Communist Party MPs, Ivan Nikitchuk and Nikolai Arefyev. Despite a parliamentary legal review finding that it is “unclear and vague” the bill will have its first reading in parliament on January 19.
Nikitchuk was quoted by the Russian news service claiming that the bill is aimed “at strengthening traditional Orthodox values”.
He went on to state that gay people are “scum that comes to us from the West, it is unnatural”, and that they are “sick and need to be treated.”
“It is hard to exaggerate the sinister absurdity and abusive intent of this bill,” commented Tanya Cooper, Russia Researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It would effectively outlaw being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) and penalise people for expressing their identity, a crucial part of anyone’s existence.”
She added that, “If the members of parliament have any regard at all for the country’s constitution and international human rights obligations, they know that they should immediately reject this bill.”
In 2013, President Putin signed a law prohibiting the promotion of “non-traditional” sexual relationships in public, on television, in print or on the internet.
The law has been blamed for increased anti-gay sentiment, discrimination and violence against members of the LGBT community in Russia.