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Russian Duma Rejects Bill Criminalizing Gay 'Coming Out'

Russia's lower house of parliament has rejected draft legislation that called for fines and arrests of people who publicly express their homosexuality.

The so-called "coming out" bill, initiated by lawmakers from the Communist Party, called for fines of up to 5,000 rubles (about $63) for publicly expressing "nontraditional sexual orientation."

Punishment would have been up to 15 days in prison for making such expressions at educational or cultural facilities for youth.

The bill was rejected by a State Duma committee on January 18, which advised lawmakers to unanimously vote against it in the event it came up for a first reading by the entire chamber.

It's unclear whether its sponsors will try to reintroduce the legislation.

Encouraged by the Kremlin, the Duma in 2013 backed a controversial law banning the promotion of gay "propaganda" to minors.

That law sparked wide international criticism, and several Western leaders refused to attend the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 in protest.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax