On Monday, December 5, Russian leader Vladimir Putin officially signed an anti-LGBTQ+ bill into law, expanding the legislation banning so-called “gay propaganda” to include people of all ages.
The new law essentially criminalises the promotion of queer relationships and identities, as well as censoring inclusive media. This legislation is an expansion of a 2013 law prohibiting the dissemination of LGBTQ+-related material to those under the age of 18. In October, Russian officials voted in favour of the anti-LGBTQ+ bill that President Vladimir Putin has since signed into law.
Content including LGBTQ+ themes will be banned from the internet, books, audio-visual services, cinema, and advertising. If one is found to be in breach of the new legislation, they can face a fine of up to 400,000 rubles (€6,054) and these fines can increase to 5 million rubles (€75,675) for legal entities. Violations committed by non-residents are punishable by 15 days’ detention and deportation from Russia.
❗️Putin signed a law on a complete ban on "LGBT propaganda" in Russia
In addition he signed a law banning rallies near the buildings of public authorities, universities, schools, hospitals and near them, airports and ports, train stations, churches and life support facilities. pic.twitter.com/YYYiS7T7yc
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) December 5, 2022
The legislation has been used to intimidate LGBTQ+ advocates and prevent children from accessing inclusive media. When proposing the expansion, the Chairman of the State Duma’s information committee, Alexander Khinshtein, argued that the previous legislation was “insufficient” and needed to include people of all ages in Russia.
The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, approved the bill in its final reading on November 24. The bill was nicknamed the “Answer to Blinken” after US Secretary of State Anothony Blinken described the legislation as a “blow to freedom of expression”.
As reported by EuroNews, the speaker of the State Duma acknowledged Blinken’s criticism, saying that “This is the best answer to Mr Secretary of State Blinken. Don’t impose alien values on us. Have you destroyed your (values)? We’ll see how it will all end, but it will definitely end sadly because it’s Sodom. You can’t call it otherwise. And the United States of America has become the centre of this Sodom in the world. Let them live there, but don’t bother us.”
Russia's State Duma have passed a bill to ban so-called "LGBT propaganda." This bill deprives LGBTI people their right to freedom of expression and endorses their discrimination, risking a rise in hate crimes and attacks. pic.twitter.com/p57KxD08T5
— Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) December 5, 2022
Even though the bill was only officially signed on Monday, the LGBTQ+ community in Russia is already beginning to see its effects. The first queer museum in Russia had to close down after the enactment of the ‘gay propaganda’ law. Pyotr Voskresensky, an LGBTQ+ activist from St. Petersburg, opened the museum only on November 27 this year.
The institution was home to three dozen items showcasing queer culture, including sculptures, tableware and literature. Due to the approved anti-LGBTQ+ law, the museum is now deemed illegal. According to EuroNews, Voskresensky said, “I plan to send the collection abroad so that it could be on display independently, or in association with a European queer museum.”
In other places, the law will cause changes to online resources, theatre, films, video games, literature and music events, ensuring that queer relationships and identity will remain taboo in the country.
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