On Thursday, October 27, Russian officials voted in favour of a bill that aims to expand the country’s so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law. The bill aims to prohibit the spread of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to people of all ages in Russia. Before today’s vote in the State Duma, the law forbid the spread of “gay propaganda” to minors. The bill must now pass two more rounds of voting in the lower-house State Duma, then one round in the upper-house Federation Council. It must then be signed by President Vladimir Putin before becoming law.
If the bill passes, it will essentially outlaw any display or mention of LGBTQ+ relationships and lifestyles in public. This follows Russian officials proposing the expansion of the law in June. The law has been used to intimidate LGBTQ+ advocates and prevent children from accessing inclusive media. Proposing the expansion, the Chairman of the State Duma’s information committee Alexander Khinshtein believed the current law was “insufficient” and believed it needed to include people of all ages in Russia.
According to the Moscow Times, the bill will tighten restrictions on advertising, banning the “demonstration of non-traditional sexual relations or preferences.” This also extends to films, where they will not be granted a rental license if they are to oppose the new law. The reformed law will also block any internet discourse surrounding LGBTQ+ topics. Individuals can potentially be fined up to 400,000 rubles (€6,438) while entities can be fined up to 5 million rubles (€80,480).
Under the proposal of the bill, “the rejection of family values” would be rendered the same as pornography, inciting violence, or fuelling ethnic, racial or religious tensions. It also bans “propaganda of paedophilia,” which Russian officials believe is synonymous with being gay.
As well as spreading information about “non-traditional sexual relations”, the law also prohibits the spread of material that “can make minors want to change their gender”. The original law was introduced in 2013 and was extensively criticised by LGBTQ+ rights advocates.
Blocking LGBTQ+ content in the country has now been regarded as a response to the “hybrid war” being waged by the West against Russia. This was heard by politicians in the Duma last Monday, adding to Vladimir Putin’s rant about same-sex parent families last month. Patriarch Kirill, the head of Russia’s Orthodox Church has endorsed the new legislation, and has also described the war between Russia and Ukraine as a battle between those supporting pro-West gay Pride events, and those who do not.
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