Fri. Dec 2nd, 2022

The Russian parliament approved a bill on Thursday 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 action or information deemed to be an attempt to promote homosexuality – whether in public, online or in films, books or advertisements – could be subject to heavy fines.

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

Lawmakers say they are defending the traditional values ​​of the “Russian world” against a liberal West they say is determined to destroy them — an argument officials are also increasingly using as one of the justifications for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.

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Authorities have already used the existing law to shut down gay pride and detain gay rights activists. Human rights groups say the new law aims to completely banish so-called “non-traditional” LGBT lifestyles practiced by lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people from public life.

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

Legal experts say the vagueness in the bill’s text leaves room for law enforcement to interpret it as broadly as they want, leaving members of the LGBT community in even greater uncertainty.

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Kseniya Mikhailova of the LGBT support group Vykhod (“Coming Out”) said that gay bars or adult-only clubs would probably still be allowed to operate, although perhaps not for advertising, but that same-sex kissing in public could be perceived as offense.

Click to play video: 'Rammstein members kiss on stage to protest anti-LGBTQ2 law'

Rammstein members kiss on stage to protest anti-LGBTQ2 laws

And she said same-sex couples would begin to fear their children could be taken from them based on the LGBT lifestyle being demonstrated to them.

The law provides for fines of up to 400,000 rubles ($6,600) for individuals and up to 5 million rubles ($82,100) for legal entities. Foreigners could face a 15-day arrest and subsequent deportation.

Mikhailova said that the initial ban on LGBT “propaganda” against minors nine years ago caused a wave of attacks on the LGBT community and that now a “tsunami” can be expected because the amendment in force “says that the state is not against violence against LGBT people. “

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Political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann said the law aims to ban anything depicting LGBT relationships or tendencies to be “socially acceptable” or “equal to so-called traditional family relationships or sexual relationships”.

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

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

Video-sharing app TikTok was fined 3 million rubles last month for promoting “LGBT-themed videos”, while Russia’s media regulator asked publishing houses to consider withdrawing from the sale of all books containing “LGBT propaganda”.

(Reporting by Filipp Lebedev and Ben Tavener, writing by Kevin Liffey, editing by Gareth Jones)