“Though the new legislation is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting the dissemination of ‘gay propaganda’ to persons under 18, in reality its damaging effects will be more far-reaching. In practice, LGBT marches, festivals, posters, magazines, books, films, welfare advice and safer sex education are likely to face criminal prosecution, as will individuals who identify themselves as gay in public.”
While the defeat of Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the US is still a cause for celebration, 10,000 kilometers away an iron fist is squashing the rights of Russia’s LGBT communities.
President Vladimir Putin recently signed into law a new anti-gay bill that criminalizes LGBT freedom of expression.
The law forbids any “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations,” which could be interpreted as anything from writing to demonstrations to kissing in public. The adoption of children by gay couples has also been banned by the Russian parliament.
The bill has sparked widespread condemnation abroad and has led to a call for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in Sochi, Russia.
Peter Tatchell (far right in picture), director of the British human rights advocacy organization Peter Tatchell Foundation, recently spoke out against the bill:
“These are the latest examples of escalating homophobic repression in Russia. LGBT people in St. Petersburg who attempted to hold a Gay Pride march in June were violently attacked by neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists. The police failed to adequately protect them.
“On May 25, an attempted Moscow Gay Pride parade was broken up and the participants arrested. Earlier, the parade received an official banning order. In June, the St Petersburg LGBT organization, Coming Out, was fined 500,000 rubles (nearly £10,000) for allegedly accepting overseas funding and refusing to register as a ‘foreign agent.’ The Russian LGBT film festival, Bok o Bok (Side by Side), suffered a similar fate, despite receiving no funding from abroad. And last month, a Russian MP, Alexander Mikhailov, a deputy in the regional Trans-Baikal parliament, announced plans to introduce a law to have LGBT people seized by soldiers and publicly flogged in town squares.
“We salute the courageous activists in Moscow, St Petersburg and other Russian cities who have protested peacefully for LGBT equality and have been beaten and arrested. They have shown extraordinary bravery.
“Putin seems hell-bent on forcing LGBT people back into the closet and locking the door. This law is effectively a blanket censorship of any public expression of same-sex love, gay identity and LGBT human rights. It is one of the harshest laws against LGBT freedom of expression anywhere in the world.”
If you have not already done so, please sign the All Out petition against LGBT persecution in Russia: allout.org/en/actions/russia-attacks. Or join a Facebook group calling for a boycott of the 2014 Olympics: