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HRW Blasts 'Homophobic' Russian Bill

  • RFE/RL

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Russian lawmakers to reject a draft law that would penalize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals who publicly reveal their sexual orientation.

In a November 4 statement, Tanya Cooper, Russia researcher at the New-York-based group, described the bill as "a new and absurd low in discriminatory legislative proposals.”

The draft law, registered on October 29 in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, would introduce fines and potential jail time for individuals who "publicly" express "nontraditional sexual orientations" and for those who "demonstrate their aberrant sexual preferences in public."

Rights groups and Western governments have denounced what they call a concerted government effort to restrict the rights of LGBT individuals in Russia, including a controversial 2013 law that bans spreading "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" among minors.

“This draft is yet another example of how the 2013 law opened the floodgate to further discrimination against LGBT people,” Cooper said. “It protects no one and punishes people for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”