Activists held in protest over ‘gay propaganda’ bill

Russian parliament approves outlawing the promotion of homosexual links


Twenty gay activists were detained by police in Moscow today for a “kissing protest”, as the Russian parliament gave preliminary approval to a controversial bill that would outlaw “homosexual propaganda”.

The protesters were first assaulted with rotten eggs by Orthodox Christian activists and skinheads, and then dragged away by police, who confirmed that 20 people had been detained.

The Duma passed the bill in the first of three readings by 388 votes to one, and applause rippled through the chamber. “We live in Russia, not Sodom and Gomorrah,” United Russia deputy Dmitry Sablin said before the vote. “Russia is a thousands-years-old country founded on its own traditional values – the protection of which is dearer to me than even oil and gas.”

The law targets those who promote homosexuality to children, and is designed to bolster family values, according to the MPs who proposed it.

Similar legislation has been passed in several Russian regions over the past two years, including the city of St Petersburg, and now the bill looks set to take hold nationwide. The law envisages fines of up to 5,000 roubles (£100) for individuals, 50,000 (£1,000) for public officials and 500,000 roubles (£10,000) for organisations who are found to be engaging in gay propaganda.

The law will forbid “holding visual events with the participation of homosexuals in places accessible to children”, as well as “approval of homosexual links on television or radio during times when children could be watching”.

In St Petersburg, an MP even brought a lawsuit against the pop star Madonna last year, claiming that her concert in the city, during which she spoke out against the law, constituted homosexual propaganda. A court threw out the claim.

Even without the law, tolerance towards gay rights in Russia is minimal, with Moscow and other cities repeatedly banning gay parades, and public opinion broadly supportive of the law. Gay activists who have tried to hold parades or protests in the past have been arrested by the police and assaulted by skinheads and Russian Orthodox hardliners. The former mayor of Moscow, Yuri Luzhkov, infamously referred to gay parades as “Satanic”, and under his successor Sergei Sobyanin little has changed.

In regions where the law has already taken hold, gay rights activists have complained that vague wording means services like counselling for gay teenagers are now potentially illegal.

In the northern city of Arkhangelsk, a medical clinic that worked to provide sexual health checkups for young gay men cancelled the project, again fearing retribution from authorities.

“It’s just awful,” said Dmitry, a 27-year-old Muscovite who did not want to use his full name. “Everywhere in the world life is becoming better for gays and here it’s getting harder. It was hard to tell my family, I hide it from my employer, and now they are trying to make things even worse with this stupid law.”

MPs said that the law would need to be amended before it comes for a second reading in spring, to tighten up the definition of what is meant by the words “homosexual” and “propaganda”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before