Russia to debate banning all public displays of affection between gay people

If the legislation is approved gay couples will face a two-week jail term

The Russian parliament could be on the verge of banning all public displays affection between gay people in its latest assault on LGBT rights. 

Legislation due to be voted on in the Duma this week could impose a ban on all public displays of affection between gay people in the country - meaning kissing or even holding hands could lead to a fine or a two-week prison sentence.

In 2013, Russia passed a controversial law which banned “gay propaganda” - meaning any public speeches, writing or demonstrations which equates gay relationships to straight ones because it may "influence children".

President Vladimir Putin has recently claimed he condemns homophobia but is increasingly targeting what he calls “non-traditional sexual relations” as a corrupting influence on Russia’s morality and society. 

Speaking to Russian newspaper Izvestia in November, Ivan Nikitchuk - the Communist party MP who drafted the bill - said the 2013 anti-LGBT law was “insufficiently effective”. 

He said “homosexuality is a huge threat to every normal person, which can affect children or grandchildren, and thus interrupt the race”.

But he later told a Russian radio station that the new law would not affect women because they believed “women are more reasonable”. 

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LGBT protesters at a demonstration in St Petersburg. Gay couples could face a fine or two weeks in prison if the legislation is passed

The wording of the proposed law is vague and there are no guarantees the Duma will pass it, the Washington Post reports

When the bill - which is currently at the first reading stage - was put before the Duma’s legal committee, they were unenthusiastic about it saying it would be potentially too difficult to enforce. 

The Kremlin has not commented on the bill so it is unclear whether it is backed the government.

Although being gay is not technically illegal in Russia, laws passed in recent years have made it harder and harder for the LGBT community to live openly. 

Human Rights Watch says LGBT activists in the country have reported anti-vigilante groups are able to attack them “with impunity” and the 2013 law has fuelled the violence against them. 

It said: “LGBT people described being beaten, abducted, humiliated, and called 'paedophiles' or 'perverts', in some cases by homophobic vigilante groups and in others by strangers on the subway, on the street, at nightclubs, at cafes, and in one case, at a job interview”.

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