First they fight the Nazis, then they become them. This legislation is beyond disgusting. Its intent is to, first, tie gays to pedophiles, and second, ban any thing in public that mentions the word “gay.” That would mean a Pride parade, a demonstration – but it could it even potentially ban wearing a rainbow pin or mentioning the word “gay” while walking down the street if children are near?
It’s the kind of thing you’d expect in the Soviet Union, or some backwards third world dictatorship. It’s not the kind of thing you’d expect from a country that likes to think of itself as more developed than, say, Nigeria.
Our country has a lot of problems, but leave it to Russia, as always, to show us how good we’ve got it.
Have the Soviet years taught these people nothing?
In a move fiercely criticized by rights activists, St. Petersburg’s local legislature has passed a bill banning propaganda to minors about homosexuality or pedophilia.
The bill, which still must be signed by the city’s governor to become law, provides for fines up to 5,000 rubles ($172) for individuals and 500,000 rubles ($17,200) for organizations.
RFE/RL correspondent Claire Bigg spoke to Yury Gavrikov, who heads the St, Petersburg-based group Ravnopravie (Equal Rights), which promotes the rights of sexual minorities.
RFE/RL: What kind of activities could be outlawed as homosexual “propaganda”?
Gavrikov: That’s precisely the problem. For me, the term “propaganda” has exactly the same connotation as the team “anti-Soviet propaganda.” Everything that city authorities think will contradict the general stance of the [ruling United Russia] party — since almost all city officials are members of United Russia — will give them an opportunity to implement this law.
This term is being used precisely because it’s vague, in order to bar public activities by certain groups of people. Any public activity that carries the word “gay,” or “lesbians,” or “bisexual” or “transgender” can be interpreted as propaganda — be it an awareness campaign, an opinion poll, or an article posted on our website.
More from the St. Petersburg gay group:
From: Polina Savchenko
St. Petersburg, Russia: Anti-gay bill passed in the final hearing
Today the bill banning so-called “propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia to minors” passed in the 3rd reading in St. Petersburg city parliament. 29 deputies voted in favor of the bill, 5 voted against the bill, and 1 abstained. 15 deputies did not vote (either abstained, or were absent).
Member of the Board of Coming Out and Chairman of Russian LGBT Network, Igor Kochetkov:
“I am ashamed of St. Petersburg, ashamed of the deputies. We know that the majority of them realize very well the absurdity and unjust nature of this law. But those who voted in favor did not vote according to their conscience, but according to their “duty”, because this is what their superiors told them to do. They are not able to vote according to their conscience as most of them were given their deputy seats not by the electorate will, but by those in power. Everybody knows how the elections for the Legislative Assembly went on December 4th.
Today everyone can see that the abuse of the elections process, together with the ambitions of those who have power to keep it no matter what, open the door to “milonovs” – fanatics, obscurantists, and bigots. Usually after such “milonovs” arrive the fascists. Laws against gays are only the beginning, tomorrow “milonovs” will come after others. Those who applaud the “triumph of traditional values” today will very soon be surprised to find themselves among those “banned.”
Communications manager of Coming Out, Olga Lenkova:
“The voting results of course did not come as a surprise to us. Already on Friday, after the so-called ‘public’ hearings, it was clear that neither Mr. Milonov, nor his colleagues in the United Russia were willing to hear any of the arguments that lawyers, scientists, or human rights activists had to make. The fact that they ignored even the Legal Department of the Legislative Assembly itself, who criticized the bill as not defining the “objective side of the violation”, is a clear indication of that. LGBT organization Coming Out will definitely continue the struggle against the law and call on the Governor to not sign this unconstitutional piece of legislation that incites hatred against a social group.”
City governor, Georgiy Poltavchenko, now has 14 days to sign the bill into effect, or send it back to be “reworked.”
If the law goes into effect, it will rule out nearly all public events carried out by or on behalf of LGBT people and organizations and their reaching out to the media and the Internet, severely curtailing the publication of anything relating to LGBT rights or providing assistance or advice.
Similar laws were implemented in 2006 in Ryazan, in Arkhangelsk in September 2011 and in December of 2011 in Kostroma region. Several MPs in Moscow expressed the desire to draft a similar bill. Meanwhile the ruling party’s representatives are suggesting that such a law should be passed in the State Duma, the federal parliament.
St. Petersburg LGBT organization Coming Out
+7 (812) 313 9369
+7 (904) 609 9706