Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Russian Federation Council, the upper house of parliament , has unanimously approved a controversial bill banning 'homosexual propaganda "among minors and punishing any public expression of people with" non-traditional sexual orientation" with fines and imprisonment. Already in place at the regional level, the law has raised a chorus of criticism from human rights defenders, according to who such initiatives do nothing but help strengthen the widespread homophobia in the country.
On June 26, the Federation Council approved the text by 137 votes in favor and one abstention. Now it only needs the signature, widely expected, of President Vladimir Putin and the official publication of the document, to become law. On the same day also passed the rule prohibiting adoptions of Russian children by same-sex or unmarried couples, who live in countries where it is marriages between same-sex couples is legal. In this case Putin himself publicly supported the legislative initiative.
According to the new law, an individual could be fined from 4 to 5 thousand rubles (100-125 euro) and a legal entity from 800 thousand to one million rubles (19 thousand- 23,500 euro) and 90 days of detention. A public authority, however, is likely to pay between 40 and 50 thousand rubles (€ 1000-1250). The penalties will be increased if the "propaganda" is being spread on the internet. Foreigners are also being targeted, who risk a fine and imprisonment of up to 15 days, in addition to expulsion.
The day before the Council vote Putin claimed the bill aims to protect children and not to foster discrimination. The same argument was put forward by the Chairman of the Federation Council, Valentina Matviyenko, according to who homosexuals "are no longer persecuted as in the days of the USSR and are normal members of society" in today's Russia, but the need to protect children is "a demand from society" and "not someone's whim". Matviyenko quoted a survey according to which 90% of Russians parents do not want "non-traditional" orientation sexual to be promoted among their children.
Homosexuality is widespread in Russia, where it was considered a criminal offense until 1993 and a mental illness until 1999. Between May and June, in less than a month, there were two murders of gay men in the country. Those responsible have confessed that the motive was homophobia. According to a survey by Vtsiom published in June, 88% of Russians support the anti-gay law and 54% are in favor of forms of punishment of homosexuality.
LGBT community activists
(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) have promised that they will continue,
however, to fight for their cause. "We
insist on equal rights for all and against patriarchal values, now actively
promoted by the Church and by the government and are not averse to the idea of a
modern society," said Igor Kochetkov, head of the LGBT network in St.
government is using instincts as homophobia and xenophobia to justify its
policies against independent civil society," he added.
The same day, the Federation Council has also approved the law against "offenses against religious sentiment," which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. The text is highly contested not only by secular members of society, but also within the Russian Orthodox Church. "This unfortunately tends to suppress rather than to educate society", sources in the Moscow Patriarchate, who requested anonymity tell AsiaNews. The law was drafted after the Pussy Riot feminist punk band, two members of which are serving two years in a labor camp for an anti-Putin performance staged at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. The judges felt the girls were guilty of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred."