Reacting to the news that Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, has approved the first reading of a bill which extends a ban on so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to all age groups, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:
“In Russia’s new era of repression, state-sanctioned homophobia is about to be ramped up to a whole new level. The new draft ‘gay propaganda’ law not only brazenly deprives LGBTI people of their right to freedom of expression and endorses their discrimination, but will likely also lead to an increase in violent attacks and other hate crimes against them.
If approved, this new law will very likely be used to shutter NGOs, block LGBTI-themed websites, stifle social media pages and intimidate activists with extortionate fines.
“Nine years ago, the Russian authorities enacted a law that banned the promotion of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ to minors, under the pretext of protecting young people from alleged ‘harmful’ influence. Yet now, all pretence has gone. If approved, this new law will very likely be used to shutter NGOs, block LGBTI-themed websites, stifle social media pages and intimidate activists with extortionate fines. It will certainly encourage further homophobia and abominable discrimination.
“From banning films and books with openly LGBTI characters to ostracizing LGBTI people, the passing of this new law will be yet another disaster for human rights.”
On 27 October, the State Duma approved the first of three required readings of a draft law that seeks to ban the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to all age groups. Individuals caught committing this “offence” could be fined between 50,000 and 400,000 rubles (US$815 to 6,520) while organizations could be fined up to five million rubles (US$81,500).
The strictest penalties would apply to “propaganda” shared with minors through the media or the internet, or when “committed” by a foreign citizen or stateless person.
The bill requires approval by both houses of the Russian Parliament and must be signed into law by President Putin before it is enacted, yet this could happen within days.
For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or +44 (0)77 7847 2126, email: [email protected], twitter: @amnestypress