Moscow (AFP) – Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Thursday approved amendments aimed at toughening a notorious 2013 law on “gay propaganda”, as Moscow shows a conservative drive at home as its troops battle in Ukraine.
Rights campaigners, who condemn the 2013 law, say that in fact any act or public mention of same-sex couples is criminalized.
The Duma website said lawmakers voted “unanimously” to ban “propaganda of non-traditional sex” for all Russian adults in the first reading.
The bill still needs to be approved by Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, before it can be signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.
The original 2013 law banned what authorities considered “gay propaganda” to minors, while the amendments would extend it to all Russian adults.
The new provisions prohibit “gay propaganda” in the media, internet, advertising, literature and cinema.
Also included are prohibitions on “paedophilia propaganda”.
The bill would prohibit the “denial of family values” and also contains a clause against propaganda which could “cause minors to want to change their sex”.
Foreigners who violate the law would be subject to deportation, according to its text.
Officials had urged parliament to pass the law, describing it as part of a civilizational clash with the West that has intensified since the Kremlin’s offensive in Ukraine.
“A special military operation is taking place not only on the battlefields, but also in people’s minds,” lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said on social media, welcoming the law’s approval.
He called on Russia to “protect” itself from the “threat” of same-sex relationships.
“It’s for the future of our country: for the health of the nation, for demography.”
“Another attempt at discrimination, humiliation”
Some Russian book publishers and film producers have raised censorship concerns, saying the law could even affect productions of Russian classics.
Earlier this month, the country’s leading gay rights NGO ‘Set’ called on lawmakers not to pass the bill, calling it “another attempt to discriminate and humiliate the LGBT community”.
The group called the law “absurd”.
“MPs assume that the capable adult population is unable to choose what they say, watch and read,” the group said in a statement.
Putin has made social conservatism the cornerstone of his rule.
In his speech annexing Ukrainian territories last month, he railed against families with a “parent number one and parent number two” – apparently referring to same-sex parenting.
New constitutional amendments passed in a controversial vote in 2020 define marriage in Russia exclusively as the union of a man and a woman.
In a ranking of 49 European countries, the organization Rainbow Europe ranked Russia fourth from the bottom in terms of tolerance towards LGBTQ people.
© 2022 AFP