Russian parliament passes ‘LGBT propaganda’ law to further restrict expression – National

Russia’s parliament on Thursday approved a bill that expands the ban on “LGBT propaganda” and restricts the “demonstration” of LGBT behavior, making any expression of the LGBT lifestyle nearly impossible.

Under the new law, which still needs approval from the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin, any act or information deemed to promote homosexuality, whether in public, online or in films, books or advertisements, could be prosecuted. heavy fine.

Previously, the law only prohibited the promotion of the LGBT lifestyle aimed at children. The new bill also bans the “demonstrating” of LGBT behavior to children.

Lawmakers say they are defending the traditional values ​​of the “Russian world” against a liberal West bent on destroying them — an argument increasingly used by officials to justify Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

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Russia strengthens anti-LGBTQ2 law, bans sharing of same-sex “propaganda”

Authorities have already used the existing law to stop gay pride marches and arrest gay rights activists. Rights groups say the new law aims to completely banish “non-traditional” LGBT lifestyles practiced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from public life.

“LGBT today is an element of a hybrid war, and in this hybrid war we must protect our values, our society and our children,” Alexander Khinstein, one of the bill’s architects, said last month.

Legal experts said the vagueness of the bill’s language gives law enforcement agencies room to interpret them as broadly as they want, leaving members of the LGBT community in a position of further uncertainty.

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Kseniya Mikhailova of the LGBT support group Vykhod (“Out”) said gay bars or clubs intended for adults would still be allowed to operate, but it would be illegal for same-sex people to kiss in public, even if not advertised. .

Rammstein members kiss on stage to protest anti-LGBTQ2 law

And he said same-sex couples would begin to fear their children would be taken from them on the grounds that they were living an LGBT lifestyle.

The law stipulates fines of up to 400,000 rubles ($6,600) for individuals and up to 5 million rubles ($82,100) for legal entities. Foreigners face 15 days of imprisonment and subsequent deportation.

Mikhaylova said the original ban nine years ago on LGBT “propaganda” against minors had sparked a wave of attacks against the LGBT community and could now expect a “tsunami” because the current amendment “says the state is not against violence.” LGBT people.”

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Since December, 2 people have died and 40 people have been detained in the purge of LGBTQ people in Chechnya

Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann said the law aims to ban anything that makes LGBT relationships or tendencies “socially acceptable” or “equivalent to so-called traditional family relationships or sex”.

“People — authors, publishers, just people — will think twice before mentioning anything LGBT-related,” he said in an interview from Cologne, Germany.

Schulmann said the bill is also a “big win” for communications regulator Roskomnadzor. It has already “assumed political police powers” and now has the power and responsibility to monitor all kinds of information in search of LGBT propaganda.

Video-sharing app TikTok was fined 3 million rubles last month for promoting “LGBT-themed videos,” while Russia’s media regulator asked publishers to consider removing all books containing “LGBT propaganda.”

(Reporting by Philipp Lebedev and Ben Tavener Editing by Gareth Jones Writing by Kevin Liffey)