RUSSIA: Lawmakers introduce bill banning promotion of homosexuality to "protect" minors

Summary: The bill is similar to one signed into law early this month in St. Petersburg which bans homosexual propaganda because it "threatens" Russia and because "sexual deviation" negatively impacts Russian children.

[29 March 2012] - The Russian lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, will consider a controversial bill introduced by lawmakers on Thursday that bans the spread of "homosexual propaganda" to minors.

The bill calls for fines of up to 500,000 rubles (USD $16,500) for promoting the homosexual lifestyle and appears to be aimed at media outlets which lawmakers blame for "promoting gay lifestyles as 'normal behaviour.'"

The bill is similar to one signed into law early this month in St. Petersburg that imposes fines against people convicted of promoting homosexuality, including gays or lesbians who are open about their sexuality.

The St. Petersburg bill was introduced in November, and sponsors claim it is necessary because homosexual propaganda "threatens" Russia and that "sexual deviation" negatively impacts Russian children.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Governor Georgy Poltavchenko to veto the St. Petersburg legislation , which they called a "discriminatory and dangerous initiative." The new bill also calls for fines of up to 1 million rubles for promotion of paedophilia.

Russia has long struggled with the acceptance of homosexuality. In 2008, several Russian gay rights activists were arrested by police in Moscow for holding events commemorating the 1993 law that put an end to government prosecution for homosexual activity in Russia.

It was the third consecutive year Moscow Pride held events around the city to elude officials attempting to enforce a local ban on gay pride parades that was put in place due to fears of violence.

The UN has attempted to pass resolutions aimed at ending sexuality discrimination worldwide but has faced difficulty passing resolutions on gay rights issues. Last year the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed the "Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity" resolution, which is the first resolution to call for an end to sexuality discrimination worldwide.

In 2010 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for countries around the world to abolish laws discriminating against gay and lesbian individuals. A year earlier, the UN passed a gay rights declaration calling on states to end criminalisation and persecution of homosexuals. This declaration was recalled by the new resolution.

Although 85 countries signed the declaration, 57 countries, primarily in Africa and the Middle East, signed an opposing statement. In 2008, the UN General Assembly was divided over the issue of decriminalising homosexuality as 66 nations signed a statement calling for decriminalisation, and nearly 60 nations signed an opposing statement.


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