Homosexuality now illegal in St. PetersburgBreaking News, Top Highlights Monday, March 12th, 2012
Russian lawmakers passed a ‘gay gag bill’ in St. Petersburg Sunday, introducing new legislation that would prohibit any form of communication related to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people.
Proponents of the law say it will prohibit “the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors,” but LGBT allies and activists say the law is part of a greater effort to silence the gay and lesbian community in Russia.
The law will criminalize any reading, writing, speaking, or other forms of communication related to homosexuality and violations can set back an offender by up to $16,700.
“This law has little to do with protecting minors. Today, neither homosexual people, nor human rights defenders, nor lawyers can answer the question of how this law is going to be applied in practice, due to its vague nature and non-legal terminology,” said Polina Savchenko of St. Petersburg’s Coming Out, an organization for the protection of LGBT people. “To talk about existence of homosexuality, to publicly denounce homophobic violence, to develop sense of self-awareness and dignity in homosexual people, to promote tolerance – all of these acts can fall under the “propaganda” law. This law will serve directly to further isolate and marginalize the gay community and encourage hate towards a social group.”
This is not the first time Russian land has instituted such a law. Homosexuality was outlawed in the Soviet Union, but later decriminalized by Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1993.
Savchenko added, “We are convinced that no authority can deprive people of their right to dignity, to respect of private and family life, to freedom of expression and to protection from discrimination and violence.”
There are now four Russian laws which ban homosexuality, two of which are currently being challenged. LGBT activists have promised to take action to overturn the most recent law passed Sunday in St. Petersburg.
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