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Russian 'Gay Propaganda' Bill Passes First Reading Amid Scuffles Outside Duma

Gay-Rights Activists Scuffle With Police Outside Dumai
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January 25, 2013
Scuffles broke out between gay-rights supporters holding a "kiss-in" protest and opponents outside the State Duma as deputies were set to debate a new law against disseminating "homosexual propaganda" to minors on January 25. At least 20 people demonstrating in support of gay rights were detained. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)

Scuffles broke out between gay-rights supporters holding a "kiss-in" protest and opponents outside the State Duma as deputies were set to debate a new law against disseminating "homosexual propaganda" to minors on January 25. At least 20 people demonstrating in support of gay rights were detained. (RFE/RL's Russian Service)

By Tom Balmforth
MOSCOW -- Russia's State Duma has passed the first reading of a bill that would impose large administrative fines for spreading so-called homosexual propaganda to minors.

The vote on January 25 was 388 in favor, with one against and one abstention.

Earlier on the same day, at least 20 people demonstrating in support of rights for homosexuals were detained as scuffles between supporters and opponents of the bill broke out outside the parliament building.

The federal bill would outlaw gay parades and proposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($165) for individuals violating the measure. Companies would incur fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($165,000).

In the Duma, Dmitry Sablin of the ruling United Russia party backed the need for the proposed legislation.

"Look at the statistics among our young people," he said. "Already 30 percent of children have a more or less positive attitude toward [homosexuality]. We live in Russia after all; not Sodom and Gomorrah. I think Russia is a 1,000-year-old country founded on certain traditional values and defending our own values is even more important than oil or gas."

In Washington, the Obama administration said the United States was "deeply concerned" over the legislation.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the legislation will “severely” restrict freedom of expression and assembly for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, and “indeed for all Russians.”

She called on Russia to meet its international obligations to protect its citizens' democratic rights, without discrimination

Protest Clashes

As Duma deputies headed into their debate, supporters of the bill assaulted rights campaigners.

"Novaya gazeta" correspondent and gay-rights activist Yelena Kostyuchenko was among those protesting outside the Duma building.

"There were also some fascists who came to the Duma," she said. "Some of them threw eggs at us, others chanted prayers. They poured 'zelyonka' ['brilliant green,' a common antiseptic that is hard to wash off] on us. They tried to attack us several times."

PHOTO GALLERY: Gay-rights protesters were assaulted during their protest outside the Duma on January 25:

Kostyuchenko pointed out that none of the antihomosexual protesters were taken into custody.

"The police were, of course, clearly on the State Duma's side," she said. "In our police van, there are only LGBT activists and their friends, people who were protesting the bill. There aren't any fascists or so-called Orthodox activists among us here."

'Without This Kind Of Influence'

United Russia's parliamentary faction leader, Vladimir Vasilyev, supports the proposed law.

"I think the Duma will pass this decision today in order to restrict -- by means of fines -- propaganda of homosexuality among minors," he said. "I stress, among minors. We want our young generation to grow up without this kind of influence."

To become law, the bill must pass two more readings in the lower house, win approval from the Federation Council, and be signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Amnesty International criticized the proposed law as "an attack on the right to freedom of expression."

In a statement issued on January 25, David Diaz-Jogeix, Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia program deputy director said the legislation could be interpreted very loosely and also "further stigmatizes and alienates" homosexual people.

With reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Victor Nunnally from: Wilmington, NC
January 25, 2013 16:41
Come on Russia. If a human being is sexually attracted to a fellow human being and it is mutual then who gives a rat's booty. You have bigger fish to fry like the corruption that is being committed.. Look what you created. You are a victim of conformity and fear. Stop blaming a group and start investigating and prosecuting those who know the immorality of capitalism.
In Response

by: Alex from: Ivanov
January 25, 2013 20:39
I'm so glad I don't live in Russia anymore! This law is really outrageous. So kissing and holding hands with someone I love and who happens to be of the same gender constitutes homosexual propaganda to minors?? You better look at juvenile drinking, smoking and drug abuse! Russia will feel a negative impact of this idiotic law on its economy pretty soon, when thousands, if not millions of gay tourists start boycotting travel there.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
January 25, 2013 21:36
I agree, the law is questionable. Instead, Russia should open an Institute for Advanced Homosexual Studies, and attract millions of gay tourists

by: Asehpe from: The Netherlands
January 26, 2013 00:20
Things change, but they don't change quickly. Think of Europe 50 years ago; or, better yet, think of France now, protesting against the legalization of gay marriage. Russia will change, too, though it may require some high-positioned figure to give the impulse -- call it the Peter the Great complex of Russian history. They gave equal rights to women, someday they'll do the same to gays. I probably won't see it happen in my lifetime, but it will come to pass.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 26, 2013 19:38
It's interesting to see that for the last month there have been so many massive rallies and popular protests against the plan of a law to introduce equality of sexes in terms of rights of getting married - but in FRANCE. And the RFE/RL was not interested even a tiny bit to report on these protests.
But when there is something similar in RUSSIA - it is very well covered here.
Ref. on protests and anti-protest in France: http://www.lemonde.fr/societe/article/2013/01/26/mariage-homosexuel-ayrault-espere-une-forte-mobilisation-dimanche_1823077_3224.html

by: Ben
January 28, 2013 11:27
Is it a psychopathy that an editor can throw out his article because of some comment which is ideologically not pure? This post confirms the fact.You are not alone: the eminent pro-Israel fighter have done this with the comment: it`s so difficult for the believer to defend Israel against the Jews and the Church. Ha Ha!

by: MACK from: ASHEVILLE
January 28, 2013 15:32
The decency of biblical standards clearly followed by many of our worlds' most successful communities, is now being thrown out in the name of liberalism and political correctness. Rome fell in large part because of its' immorality. America is following a like & similar history. Russia has a lot of ills but the corrupt LGBT movement can at least be rightly addressed so the Duma can move on and also address other ills, one buy one. Putin is also permitting the Bible to be incorporated in public school cirriculum. America used to be like that. Russia may be turning back to Christianity; realizing they were better off as a Christian nation before 1917.

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