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'Anti-gay' law submitted to Russian parliament

31 march 2012, 15:56
©REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
©REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Regional deputies on Thursday submitted a draft law to the federal Russian parliament that would make "homosexual propaganda" to minors a punishable offense across Russia, AFP reports.

The move comes in defiance of an international outcry over the approval by the regional parliament in Saint Petersburg of an identical law for Russia's second city which rights groups say blatantly discriminates against gays.

The regional parliament in Siberia's Novosibirsk is behind the initial draft put to the State Duma of a federal law that adds "homosexual propaganda among minors" to Russia's list of administrative offences.

"Homosexual propaganda is widespread in modern Russia," the Novosibirsk deputies explained in a memo published together with the draft. Such propaganda in media and rallies "shows homosexuality as a behavioural norm," it says.

"It is necessary to protect the next generation from the effects of homosexual propaganda," it says, without listing any criteria for what exactly should be considered propaganda.

Under the draft law, offenders would pay a fine of up to 5,000 rubles ($170). The fine increases up to 50,000 rubles ($1,700) for officials, and 500,000 rubles ($17,000) for companies and organisations.

The draft would have to be passed by the Duma and the upper-house Federation Council in a series of readings before it could be signed into law by the president.

Several regions have implemented similar legislation, with Saint Petersburg adopting it earlier this month despite protests that it discriminates against gays.

Western countries have also criticised the measure, but the human rights envoy from the Russian foreign ministry, Konstantin Dolgov, said Wednesday that the laws in question "do not violate Russia's international obligations."

They are in line with "efforts to safeguard the rights and interests of children in the Russian Federation," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993 but officials often make homophobic statements, most notoriously ex-Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, who consistently refused to sanction gay pride events, which he called "satanic."

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