Following in the wake of regional anti-LGBT legislation, Russia’s Duma looks set to make similar laws binding at a national level. Depressingly, only one parliamentarian voted against this measure at its first reading on Friday, and 86% of Russians apparently support the bill.
The draft law, submitted in March 2012, details that the “promotion of homosexuality” among children could warrant fines of 4,000-5,000 rubles (£85-105) for individuals, 40,000-50,000 rubles (£850-1050) for officials, and 400-500,000 (£8,500-10,500) rubles for businesses.
“Such widespread propaganda of homosexuality negatively affects the formation of a child’s personality, blurs its ideas of the family as the union of a man and woman, and in fact creates grounds for limiting the freedom of choice of sexual preferences when it grows up,” the law’s backers said in a written defense of the legislation.
The idea that homosexual ‘propaganda’ (surely minute in proportion to the many images reinforcing the idea that heterosexuality is the norm which we encounter every day) is going to limit a child’s freedom of choice is ridiculous. It’s also an audaciously illogical defence of a bill which is clearly designed to limit the freedom of people (who are unlikely to see their sexuality as a ‘choice’) to express their thoughts and feelings, to be open about a perfectly normal part of their lives.
Here’s another bigot, Dmitry Sablin of the ruling United Russia party.
“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.”
Others express their opposition to homosexuality in still more zealous and lurid terms.
Lawmakers have accused gays of decreasing Russia’s already low birth rates and said they should be barred from government jobs, undergo forced medical treatment or be exiled. Orthodox activists criticized U.S. company PepsiCo for using a “gay” rainbow on cartons of its dairy products. An executive with a government-run television network said in a nationally televised talk show that gays should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm and organs for transplants, while after death their hearts should be burned or buried.
As well as stifling free expression, this bill is likely to have the further effect of legitimising harassment of, and aggression against, LGBT people – an effect apparently already reflected in the fact that all those arrested after Friday’s clashes were pro-LGBT activists rather than their antagonists.
Hat Tip: Glyn