The bill aims to prevent Russians from promoting or “glorifying” homosexual relationships and gender reassignment surgery, or implying that they are “normal.”
Citizens who promote what the House calls “non-traditional sexual relationship propaganda” can be fined up to $6,600. Organizations can be fined up to $82,100. Foreigners can be sentenced to up to 15 days in prison and deported.
The bill is currently set to be approved by the Senate and will be signed by President Vladimir Putin.
Rights activists say the law is an attempt to further suppress sexual minorities in Russia. They are already facing challenges in a conservative society that has historically impeded gay pride marches and targeted LGBTQ rights activists with impunity.
Tanya Lokshina, associate director for Europe and Central Asia at Human Rights Watch, said the 2013 law was “a blatant example of political homophobia.” She said the new law would amplify it “in a broader and tougher way.”
“The original ‘gay propaganda’ ban was aimed at protecting children from ‘propaganda,'” Lokusina told The Washington Post. It means portrayal,” he said. “The bill expands to a blanket ban covering all public information or activity while maintaining stiff penalties for children involved,” she said.
Lokshina described the bill as an attempt by the Kremlin to distract from growing dissatisfaction with Russia’s war with Ukraine and its recent failures on the battlefield.
It is unclear how the law will be applied. Although there have been few cases of individuals being tried for “gay propaganda” under the 2013 law, it is increasingly being used to target cultural events, films and theater. said to be particularly at risk.
Russian political activist Lucy Stein said the law would prohibit “representing large segments of society”.
“Fighting the visibility of LGBTQ+ people will in no way affect the number of such people, but will only cause more suffering and force them to hide and hate themselves.
Stein said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made LGBTQ people more vulnerable. Russian mobilization efforts to fight in Ukraine and travel restrictions imposed on Russian citizens by foreign countries in the wake of the aggression limit the freedom of movement of Russians.
Shtein said the human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated significantly over the past year. The new law is “another nail in the coffin.”
“This war shows that any life is expendable for this government, and their oppression is particularly affecting communities that were already vulnerable before the war, including the LGBT community.”
LGBTQ rights have been scapegoated in Putin’s Russia, and many experts associate LGBTQ with “anti-Russian” values promoted by the West. Lawmakers claim they are defending morality in the face of “decadent” values.
“LGBT [rights] Today is an element of hybrid warfare, in which we must protect our values, our society and our children,” Alexander Kinstein, one of the bill’s authors, said last month.